Friday, January 27, 2017

LES THATCHER'S BURNING ISSUES - Part Two

PART TWO - WHAT THE PUBLIC DIDN'T SEE

LES THATCHER related to me that those participating in the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM main event of September 4, 1967 met at the CROCKETT office on Morehead Street that same morning.

 Those present included LESGEORGE BECKER (also the booker at the time), JOHNNY WEAVERJ.C. DYKES, both of THE INFERNOS (FRANKIE CAIN and ROCKY SMITH), GEORGE HARBEN, and 'BIG' JIM CROCKETT himself.

'BIG' JIM instructed HARBEN to make sure that by the time the main event started that evening, that all referees working the show (except ANGELO MARTINELLI, who was assigned the main event) were to be out of the building. This way no one would spot any other refs hanging around, thus spoiling credibility to HARBEN's ringside plea for LES to come to the ring to officiate the remainder of the match.

CROCKETT told LES to wear his very best suit and to be visible at the back of the COLISEUM arena, so word would reach LES to come to the ring when HARBEN called for him. "If your clothes get damaged or ruined during the match, I'll pay to replace them", CROCKETT would say.

Near the end of the first fall, referee MARTINELLI would be knocked down, injured, but able to count to three in favor of THE INFERNOS.

HARBEN would go to ANGELO's aid. Determining that the official could not continue, MARTINELLI would be helped to the dressing room. With no other ref available, HARBEN (without the use of a microphone) would call out for LES to come to the ring. The fans would actually become involved in the proceedings by relaying the message back to THATCHER, who then went to the ring and received instructions from HARBEN.

THATCHER would referee the second and third falls of the match, amidst the protests of DYKES and his two men. GEORGE and JOHNNY would even the match, winning the second fall. WEAVER would 'schoolboy' one of THE INFERNOS for the third fall victory. LES would raise GEORGE and JOHNNY's hands, who would then leave the ring and start for the dressing room.

LES was to drop back a bit, so before he could leave the ring, he would be accosted by the sore losers. A little scuffle would ensue climaxing with DYKES igniting THATCHER's face with a fireballLES would hit the mat, screaming in pain, and BECKER and WEAVER would jump back into the ring. GEORGE was to run off the 'heels' (their dastardly deed fulfilled), and WEAVER (who had conveniently worn a towel around his neck for the match) would wrap it around the burnt younster's face and help him back to the dressing room.

RUDY KAY
---
Once inside the dressing room, LES wouldn't even take the time to change his clothes. He would cover his head and slip out the back of the COLISEUM, where RUDY KAY would be waiting in his automobile. LES would slouch down on the floorboard of the back seat, and RUDY was to quickly drive LES home to the THATCHER apartment.

One more detail to cover---the hired ambulance drivers who would be at the COLISEUM in case they would really be needed during the evening. WEAVER was assigned the task of telling the ambulance guys that THATCHER had a 'phobia' with ambulances, and that GEORGE and JOHNNY would take LES to the hospital themselves, thus relieving the medics of participating. The medical personnel could not be involved, in order to 'protect the business'.

"That's how meticulous the program was laid out...every detail was taken care of," LES said.


NEXT...PART THREE - SELLING THE PROGRAM

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