Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cowboy Bob Ellis, Rip Hawk and the Birthday Cake

The Birthday Cake
by Wayne Brower
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Another weekend visit around 1960 to the grandparents afforded me the opportunity to watch wrestling and be a part of a birthday celebration – at the same time.

“Welcome to this week’s Championship Wrestling.” The announcer declared with authority.  He gave the run down of matches on the show and also told of a special event that we wouldn’t want to miss.

Cowboy Bob Ellis
from "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats"
It was the typical wrestling show of the era with two singles matches followed by a tag team battle to close the program.  However, an added treat occurred after the second match.  Coming back from commercial messages promoting live events in the viewing area, the announcer appeared with a rather large cake that sat atop his broadcast desk.  “Folks, we have a very special presentation today for a man who is loved by all, especially the children.  Cowboy Bob Ellis, will you please come out now and join us?  Let’s get him out here ladies and gentlemen.”

Taking their cue, the studio audience began to applaud and became louder when the popular Texan walked in.  Cowboy Bob was dressed to impress, with wardrobe accented in fancy western boots, vest and white Stetson.

“This is a very special day, Cowboy Bob Ellis, and we want to share it with everyone.  As you know Bob, the youngsters really look up to you.  When the kids at our local Crippled Children’s Home found out about today being your birthday, they saved their pennies to buy this cake for you.”  Cowboy Bob was noticeably moved.  A tear came to his eye and his voice quivered as he poured out his heart:  “…I’ve always tried to stand for what is right…and set a good example in everything I do…for those crippled children to remember me…”


The crowd erupted with a volume that I had never heard and continued as a young, stocky man wearing a crew-cut and a scowl appeared on camera.  It was Rip Hawk.

"The Profile" Rip Hawk
The studio audience was still voicing their displeasure of Rip’s appearance at such a touching moment.  The announcer forcefully stated “We don’t want any trouble here; this is from the crippled children to Cowboy Bob.”  Hawk yells “I have birthdays too…and those stinking kids never did anything for me!”

Instantly upon finishing his insult he sucker punched Ellis and smashes him head first into the cake.  Icing, candles and other decorations explode over the desk, announcer and the combatants.  A brawl breaks out between Rip and Cowboy Bob.  The announcer is shouting into his microphone “I’ve never seen anything like this!  We must restore order here!  We’ll be back following the station break!”

Grandma was visibly shaken by Rip’s evil actions.  “The crippled children saved their pennies…” her voice trailed off.  My aunt came into the room wanting to know what was going on.  After getting a vivid description of the incident, she proclaimed “He must be the devil.”  For the sake of the television set, I’m glad grandpa wasn’t there.

The program returns to the studio where our host, desk and floor are covered with cake.  The announcer apologizes for what he describes as the single worst thing that had ever happened in wrestling.  He also tells us Cowboy Bob Ellis is so upset he cannot appear on camera for fear of what he may say, but Bob wants to assure the kids at the Crippled Children’s Home that he would avenge the loss of their life savings.

Rip Hawk’s horrific actions completely overshadow the main event.  As the Kentuckians were dominating a couple of heel jobbers, our TV host broke in with an important bulletin: “The promoter, Mr. Jim Crockett, has ordered Rip Hawk to meet Cowboy Bob Ellis on the next card at the Lexington YMCA!  Tickets will be on sale at the box office, and at the usual locations!”

I had no idea how much Rip Hawk and the Lexington YMCA would factor into my wrestling entertainment in the future years.

Originally written and published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in March 2004