Here is the tale of how I, a middle school social studies teacher by day, found myself involved in a wrestling match with an elderly woman.
The Art of Getting the Crowd to Hate You
Following the death of Scott Hall (AKA “Razor Ramon”), like many others, I found myself reading countless articles and watching numerous compilations of "The Bad Guy" doing what he always did best: make the men want to be him, and the women want to be with him.
Scott Hall’s contributions to professional wrestling as a sport and as an art form are clear. You cannot just summon charisma that oozes as naturally as the master of the "Razor’s Edge."
Suppose you are a heel and need the crowd to hate you, but you cannot elicit that emotion of envy of your natural machismo. In that case, the next best option is to make a one hundred eighty-degree turn and make the crowd loathe you for being as objectively not cool as possible.
If that is to be achieved, there is nobody better to model yourself after than one of the most unique and trailblazing wrestlers in the history of professional wrestling: Andy Kaufman.
I kept this in mind when preparing to leave the commentary desk to enter the squared circle as a wrestler for the first time in my career.
"Tie up the bedsheets and sharpen the shiv. This iron city is no place to live. Come hell or high water I’m leaving this place alive!"
My theme song, "Iron City," recorded with local punk legend Captain Deen, blasted through the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Evansville, Indiana.
If Jerry "The King" Lawler knew what I was about to do in the same building where he had so many legendary matches, he would be livid.
Although, in all honesty, Jerry was as much of a carny during his USWA days as I happened to be at this very moment, as I’m sure my fellow contributors to Pro Wrestling Stories would agree. I pressed my crutches to the floor and swung out behind the curtain.
My Unexpected Table Bump
A little over a month prior, I was selling my first serious "bump" in professional wrestling.
Another heel in our unnamed faction, my friend Nick Depp interrupted commentary notetaking to share some interesting news at a previous show in Evansville.
"You are taking a table bump tonight," he said while tobacco dip spilled out from behind his teeth.
"Excuse me, a what? How is that going to work from commentary?" I responded.
"You’re going to distract Ray, he’s going to elbow you, he’s going to choke you out, and then John is going to be slammed on you on a table," Nick clarified.
Colonel Harper, as I am known in the wacky world of wrestling, is not a trained wrestler, and for good reason.
An unimpressive high school football career left my left knee as fragile as my emotions and left my brain a pile of mush. I have ruptured discs in my back just from sleeping, let alone bumping.
At a previous episode of Hysteria, I fell after being headbutted and briefly knocked my knee out of place again.
“How in the heck do I take a table bump?” I asked Nick, and he reminded me of the most basic advice you can give to any untrained talent receiving a wrestling move: Tuck your chin!
Nevertheless, when the spot happened, tucking my chin did not help.
When my friend John, a legitimate 400+ pound competitor, landed on my carcass slabbed on the table, the table snapped in half so fast that the half holding my head flew across the floor.
With nothing to cushion the fall against the back of my head, I closed my eyes and… thud.
Not loud, not sharp, not eventful, but intense.
I opened my eyes to black.
This had happened once before, and I was worried it was due to the same injury.
I heard the bell ring realizing my tinnitus had produced such a high-pitch tone that I couldn’t hear anything around me.
John rolled until he was face flat on the ground so fans couldn’t see or hear him speak.
"No. I know what this is."
"Man, he slammed you out of your shoes!"
"John. I’m concussed."
And I was. I didn’t even notice when Nick, the wrestler on our team involved in the match, rolled under the bottom rope and collapsed on top of John and me.
Nick was blocking his mouth to give us instructions on how we would sell while hobbling away.
I half-remembered any of his instructions. The only thing I was able to focus on was the crimson stains from his opened forehead and chest pouring onto more and more of my white suit pants and vest.
Standing was peculiar as I noticed that John was correct. John landed on me with such force that the soles of my snakeskin shoes launched into the crowd somewhere. A shame as they were authentic and from a blues shop in Clarksdale, Mississippi!
Juan, one of the babyfaces and one of the few wrestlers who went out of their way to give me advice when I started, tried to ask if I was okay, but I shouldered past him to open the back door of the building.
I had felt it coming since the initial hit. Juan followed me out into the parking lot.
"Jesus, brother. You okay? Don’t act tough for the boys if you’re not."
"No, Juan. This feels awful."
"Well, on the upside, you might’ve just given yourself an angle you can run with."
The interior of my cranium was similar to scrambled eggs at this point, but Juan’s idea did connect.
An injured manager has a lot to work with. It gives you props, which makes managing and acting in promos easier. Otherwise, managers or tag team partners look like Will Ferrell from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. They never know what to do with their hands.
It also gives the most annoying tool that a heel can have: justification. The most annoying and wretched people in your personal life are the ones that are right when they criticize you.
Not to be cliche, but evidence of this is found in all of the compelling comic book villains from decent stories, such as Batman: The Long Halloween, which has been blatantly borrowed from in my professional wrestling tenure.
With an injury, I could blame the fans for why a good guy injured me. I could stretch out the injury for as long as possible until everyone would be certain that I was over-exaggerating. It would be golden, Ponyboy.
I dug my crutches out of the closet from my knee surgery and bought a cheap neck brace from CVS.
I arrived at the building in Eddyville, Kentucky, for our next show to learn that there was another prop at the ready: a wheelchair.
As I wheeled my wheelchair out from behind the curtain with my crutch in my lap, the joy on my face was indescribable.
A pink t-shirt wrapped itself around my head like a durag to represent how I was the new face of hardcore wrestling, much like Vince McMahon in the mid-2000s!
Entire cities have been built in the time I took to wheel to the ring, stand up on a crutch, roll into the ring, have the referee set up the wheelchair, crawl into the wheelchair, and have the ring announcer aim me in the right direction to begin my promo.
Alright, promo time, it’s time for the thing I’m best at…
What was I talking about again?
Words were flowing out less like endless rain into a paper cup and more like randomly babbled sentences into a promo that I guess I was improvising on the spot.
I had ripped on Ray, the wrestler who kayfabe and shoot injured me, and his brother Chris, the recently returning from injury promoter of the company.
The fans were losing attention with every word.
Angering an Elderly Woman
While I was badmouthing brothers Waddell, I noticed Terri, the elderly mother of both brothers, shuffling through the crowd with a mop.
The fans knew she was their mother. She also hates any sort of recognition with fans when it comes to wrestling.
"…and they hurt me because their mother is a godawful streetwalker."
The line was delivered with the intent of being a throwaway to end the promo.
Before I knew it, Terri began storming towards the barricade with mop in hand!
I rolled out of the ring and made just as much of a scene about getting into the wheelchair to drive the fans insane.
Later in the night, I found myself managing a team of three heels to take on the Waddell brothers and one of their cohorts.
I was hobbling around on my crutches and getting carried away, at one point almost accidentally throwing a crutch at a baby (although some blame has to go to the parents for bringing an infant to a wrestling match)!
The match ended with the babyfaces, heroes, going over. However, amidst limping away in defeat, a fan grabbed my crutch.
Terri stepped in, grabbing the crutch herself and having a staredown with me in front of the fans.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had nothing on us with their famous staredown.
I hobbled away like the coward I was until I reached backstage.
"Chris, can I please have an angle with your mom? Ray already said it was okay," I pleaded with the promoter.
"I don’t think so. She doesn’t like getting involved in that stuff," he responded.
"Oh, come on. You heard that reaction. The fans have been begging for me to get my comeuppance and how better than in a short match with an old lady beating me?" I retorted.
He knew I was right but didn’t want to put anything in stone yet.
I was instructed to include backtalk towards Terri in my promos at the house shows until the next episode of Hysteria.
By the time we got ready to film the next episode, the angle was so hot that a response was written into the script.
I was to return from intermission by trash-talking Terri.
Despite the shots at her sons or my potentially insensitive joke about how poorly my home state’s Governor was responding to things back home, the thing that got the most ire out of the fans was my insults towards Terri.
I used the b-word to describe her. That "b**** heard around the world” set the Evansville fans wild!
Terri marched through the chairs to demand a match with me.
The crowd erupted. I looked stunned before returning to the commentary desk to complain that this could only happen in Indiana due to their lack of laws regarding the matter. The southern midwest truly is a lawless place.
The match was set in place. Colonel Harper vs. Terri at a wrestling event so big that it even featured The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, one of the most famous and influential tag teams in history. I stumbled into the hottest feud on the card with fans ready to murder me in every city.
That is not an exaggeration. On more than one occasion, a fan asked Terri if she needed help kicking my butt in the parking lot!
I began to feel it was a good idea to keep my keys between my knuckles when I walked to my car at the end of the night.
I entered the building best known for Jerry Lawler bouts by imitating one of Jerry’s greatest rivals: Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman, yes, Saturday Night Live Andy Kaufman, had a brief stint in professional wrestling as the "World Intergender Wrestling Champion."
Kaufman would challenge women to fight with him while declaring that they were better kept in the kitchen. The fights were always staged, featured women nearly dominating Kaufman the entire time, only for him to win by cheating or using some underhanded tactics.
This eventually led to Jerry Lawler giving Kaufman a piledriver and then the infamous David Letterman interview where we learned that it was okay to slap the guests, "…but what you can’t do, is throw coffee."
References to Kaufman were evident throughout the feud. I bought an apron and spatula to throw at my opponent as she walked to the ring, I had the fake neck brace, and I even had a ring introduction that directly quoted Kaufman’s words on what women were superior at, which included "washing the potatoes, scrubbing the carrots, and raising the babies."
I made sure to appoint myself as above the other wrestlers and fans due to my Lockport, New York, education, similar to Kaufman and California.
If only the fans knew that the only noteworthy thing to come out of Lockport was a piece of trash.
The final blow was appointing myself as the new patriarch of this woman’s family.
While the fans do not understand most high-brow humor, I knew I could at least reach them with the low-hanging fruit of Conor McGregor’s, "I am your daddy."
Words like "ire" or "disdain" would not scratch the surface of the overwhelming vexation that was the tsunami waves crashing into me from the Evansville crowd.
They detested me to a point where they would have cheered someone with zero wrestling experience against me. I was pulling every heel tactic in the book possible and even topped it off by wearing the colors of the bisexual flag on my bow tie and suspenders.
While that might seem like cheap heat, as an LGBTQ+ man in the Bible Belt, I had no qualms with taking genuine homophobia away from the crowd and turning it into my own weapon during a performance.
"Go beat her up! Beat that old woman up for me!" – Colonel Harper vs. Terri
When the elderly matriarch of the World Wrestling Alliance stepped through the curtain to her son’s music, the fans were electric. You would have thought Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, best known from the 2007 Disney film The Game Plan, had stepped in front of these mouthbreathers by the ovation.
This would be easy as long as everyone paced everything and we followed a simple plan.
What nobody tells you about professional wrestling is that no matter how slow you are taking your match, it is still miles too fast. Nerves are real and even hit the most experienced of wrestlers.
My commentary partner and a friend who was filling in on the headset during my match even noted how quick the offensive moves were at the start.
We had a very basic match that was set to go no longer than five minutes. Honestly, it should not have gone past three minutes. The woman I was wrestling against was nearly immobile and I was too injury prone to be trusted with any legitimate spots.
So, her son and I worked out a match:
- I would slap her and pull the neck brace off to prove that I had been faking my injury.
- She would slap me back.
- I would push her into the corner.
- She would reverse punches into a powerbomb.
- I would reverse a rolling elbow to kick her leg out of her leg (reference to Owen Hart).
- I would pick up one of my crutches to hit her.
- She would kick me in the "yam bag" (as legendary wrestler Taz would call it).
- She would slam the crutch down on my back with the might of one thousand suns, and pin me.
- I would roll out and complain, and then the ring announcer’s father, a favorite character of the locals named Chuck, would grab me by the belt loop and collar and throw me out of the building.
It was a foolproof plan that had zero room for anything to go wrong.
What went wrong was that nobody had actually considered any of the variables going into this match, myself included.
Terri had approached me during the match prior and informed me that she had forgotten every spot of our three-minute match.
If you go back and watch the match (embedded below), you can see myself and Devon visibly yelling the next spots during the match. We would have given away the entire match had the crowd been quieter.
The heater of the group I was in, John, who pancaked me through a table at the beginning of this story, was my bodyguard figure during the match, but needed to not be at ringside for a no disqualifications match, or else why would he not beat up the woman fighting me?
I grabbed a fistful of the referee’s shirt and screamed through the face mask I was wearing to give instructions to Devon.
"I need you to find any excuse to throw John out. He already has the things I don’t need for this match, but we don’t have a way to get him out of here right now," I bellowed intensely while making it appear to the fans that I threatened him to do his job.
"Can you get him on the apron?"
Already on it.
I hobbled my crutches over to John and demanded that he stand on the apron.
When the bell rang, I removed my Colonel Harper branded face mask and screeched demands to him loud enough for someone in the back row to hear over their own chants at me of, "Colonel Sanders!"
My soldier, known to the fans as "747," had his marching orders.
"Go beat her up! Beat that old woman up for me!"
With that, John was ejected by the referee to a pop from the crowd.
Colonel Harper was distraught and limped over to beg for forgiveness from Terri.
As soon as she got close, I knocked my crutches over and pushed her as hard as I could. Good lord, did I shove the daylights out of her! This poor woman stumbled back into the ropes and nearly fell onto the hardwood flooring.
I tried to take my neck brace off to insult her, but she was mid-swing on me when the neck brace was off.
Terri was meant to slap me. Instead, her wrist bashed into my ear and knocked me stupid.
I turned around and attempted to breeze by her face, but Terri was already backing to the corner.
I completely whiffed, but the camera made it look like I hit her in the face full force. Good. The crowd was hot.
Terri, visibly off guard since she had forgotten basically the whole match, had to be shoved into the corner where I would begin my ten punches, a regular spot in pro wrestling.
I gave a nod to my friend on commentary by pulling down a suspender, similar to how he would pull down one arm of his singlet, a reference to Jerry "The King” Lawler.
Before I could even wind up at the first spot, Terri jumped to the one spot she remembered.
The idea was for Terri to powerbomb me. Now, let us not forget that the woman I am fighting is fragile and could not lift anyone if she tried. She still attempted to pull on the back of my legs to start the powerbomb spot.
In theory, she would have made the motion like she was giving a powerbomb, and I would have fallen backward onto my back.
Any bump in a wrestling ring sucks, but a flat back bump is about soft as it gets. However, Terri went for the move fast and caught me off guard.
I had taken up too much time taunting and could feel myself slipping off of the second rope, known as "Bret’s rope."
I attempted to lift myself back up instead of starting the bump too early but was being pulled back too hard. What resulted was not a back bump but rather dropping all of my weight directly onto my backside.
I took a powerbomb on my butt. It looked silly, and everyone in the back had reason to harass me for the way it looked. Taking a bump wrong can potentially expose the whole business to paying fans watching from ringside.
Disregarding that, it hurt significantly worse than if I had taken the regular bump. There is a good reason why every wrestler known for doing leg drops now has problems walking.
I am in the process of selling my way back to my feet when I hear my opponent either gesturing to the referee or me.
"I forgot what comes next!"
We were past the point of hiding and directly into just attempting to save the match somehow.
"ELBOW! ROLLING ELBOW! GO FOR THE ELBOW!"
Said move was a signature of one of her sons, so it was easy for her to pick up.
She did a rotation to hit me with the elbow when I lifted my leg and stomped her knee, collapsing her to the floor.
I went to my bag in the corner of the ring that John, thankfully, did not take to the back. A spatula was pulled from the bag and held in the sky like Arthur’s Excalibur. Would a spatula be enough for this person indirectly responsible for all of my character’s troubles?
No. I threw down the spatula and lifted one of my crutches with both hands to use as a weapon.
I stepped over my opponent, who was staring at the lights from her back. With one leg on both sides and while bellowing threats to the crowd to not even give the slightest hint of subtlety as to where this was going, I lifted the crutch over my head, and Terri kicked her leg up as hard as she could.
"Right in the yam bag!" my commentary partner announced.
Censorship and providing family-friendly dialogue force people to find the strangest of synonyms. A thank you needs to go to Taz for coming up with that one.
I collapsed to the ring mat, slamming the crutch on the ground.
After selling in each corner of the ring to milk the crowd’s reaction for all it was worth, I stood, bent at the waist, awaiting the final blow.
For weeks I had reminded Terri of the necessities of this spot.
"When you hit me with the crutch, you can hit me as hard as possible. Seriously, bend this thing in half over me. As long as you hit me in the meaty parts of my shoulders or back and not the spine, it will hurt, but I will be fine. If we build everything up to a weak finish, it won’t matter."
I figured that I probably didn’t need to remind my opponent of this as she was one of the few people in the show I would genuinely be terrified of in real life. She also slapped me into another dimension at the beginning of the match, so there would be no reason for her not to hit me as hard as possible.
The crutch came up. I closed my eyes, prepared for the worst, and…
The crutch connected so softly that it came back up for a split second.
Terri had lost her footing, and the crutch barely hit me.
I don’t know why I didn’t get caught up, but I figured I already buried a fan-favorite move by taking it on my butt, so what hurt could be done from a weak weapon spot?
I leaped into the air, went horizontal like a plank of wood, and torpedoed back into the ring apron. It looked like how Paul Reubens would sell a move based on his filmography.
One, two, three. The bell rang. I lost a wrestling match to an elderly woman.
I roll out of the ring and immediately find anything to throw a tantrum about, no matter how hypocritical.
"She used a foreign object! I wasn’t ready! She attacked me before the bell!"
Every expletive under the sun rained over me. Middle fingers all pointed in my direction.
I slammed my hands on the apron with my MMA gloves. I screamed at every fan on the way to the front of the ring. I turned my back to the entranceway while pointing and yelling.
The opponent and referee both pointed to the curtain behind me. I knew my part.
"Oh my god…" I hear one fan above others before the noise crescendos.
Chuck, a character from the promotion who had not made a public appearance since the outbreak began in 2020, had returned to grab me by the collar and belt loop and throw me out of the WWA. He took his time pulling me around the ring so I could scream and kick.
I adore any opportunity I get to act like a cartoon character. Chuck stopped me in front of the ring announcer I had been insulting for months.
This man, who also happened to be Chuck’s son, slapped the ever-living-dog-a** out of me. Watching it back, there is a pitch that I hit after that slaps that would probably work as a dog whistle.
Watch Colonel Harper vs. Terri at World Wrestling Alliance’s Hysteria 117: Rock n Roll Forever:
After being dragged back up the entranceway and chucked, pardon the pun, to “the gorilla position,” I hugged Terri and stepped into the locker room to hear how it went.
"Jesus, brother, that was like a minute," Juan said, removing his kickpads from his match earlier in the night.
"Was it? I lost track of time with how loud of a pop I got," I responded like an arrogant douchebag.
The boys gave me hell, which I deserved. I did, in fact, take a back bump on my badonkadonk. I took a self-Bubba-Bomb. I E. Honda’d a ghost.
Once the tomfoolery died down, we were on par for our last match, the main event.
The control of the entire World Wrestling Alliance would be on the line as my kayfabe boss, Prince Vanderpool (although he is sometimes a King and a Lord), would be taking on C.C.W. in a fight with an almost year-long build.
I took my gimmicks off, pulled the railing up to the stage, got my wits about me, and put my headset back on.
"Welcome back to Hysteria. I’m Drake Jaxson and I’m joined once more by Colonel Harper…"
Written in memory of Logan Roettger, professionally known as Logan Legit.
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