Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Masked Avenger Saved His best For Last

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Masked Avenger (Bill Janosik Photo)
In July of 1974, a masked newcomer calling himself the Avenger arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area. A bit undersized but in fabulous condition, the fans took an immediate liking to the new guy in town. At that time, the masked Super Destroyer was running roughshod in the territory. In his early interviews, the Avenger told the fans that the Destroyer had injured him in another area, and that he had come to Jim Crockett Promotions to get his revenge by taking the mask off of the Destroyer.

From Thanksgiving of 1974 until the end of March 1975, the Avenger and the Destroyer engaged in a very entertaining program. The Super Destroyer’s vaunted claw hold had limited effectiveness against his masked opponent, as the Super D. had great trouble gripping the Avenger’s head because of the slick mask covering the Avenger’s face. The feud between the masked grapplers had its climax in mask vs. mask bouts in the territory’s larger cities in March of 1975, where the Destroyer prevailed after a series of brutal battles.

After coming out on the short end against the Super Destroyer, and after many fans saw him unmasked, the Avenger slipped into mid-card matches. Promos and interviews were never a real strong suit for the Avenger, and when he was no longer wrestling in main event matches, the necessity for him to be on the mic was no longer present. Though he continued to wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area into November of 1975, the Avenger’s last TV interview was on May 21, 1975. To me, the Avenger’s very best interview was his last one!

At the end of the May 21, 1975 TV taping, announcer Bob Caudle said, “Fans at ringside, and of course the Avenger, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to him. And all of the fans love to see you, and it was a great match you had in there.” The Avenger responded, “Thank you very much Bob. I was back there watching the two Anderson brothers. And believe me, I’ve been in wrestling for a good time now, and these two are the lousiest tag team I’ve ever seen…”

Before the Avenger could finish, he was rudely interrupted by none other than Ole Anderson. Only five days earlier the Anderson’s were defeated by Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel for the coveted NWA World Tag Team Titles. So, Ole was not in the best of moods! He cut the Avenger off, saying, “What are you doing here, Avenger?” When the masked man said it was his interview time, Ole yelled back at him, “This is OUR time, and you take your little boat and sail it somewhere else. Get out of my sight! The problem around here is that there’s no competition. Every time we get in the ring it’s an easy win for us, because there’s nobody here that will stand up to us and fight us. These guys are no exception…”

This time, a suddenly fired up Avenger interrupted the big bully, Ole Anderson! The Avenger exclaimed, “Now wait a minute!” Ole dismissively countered, “You still here? Get out of here!!” The Avenger, now fully engaged, fired back, “You talkin’ about competition; you talkin’ about competition?” Ole smirking, said, “Yeah!” To which the Avenger replied, “Why don’t you wrestle me sometime? You’ve never wrestled me! Why don’t you wrestle me sometime?"

Ole continued to belittle the Avenger, sarcastically asking him, “What, are you gonna wrestle Gene and I both? Are you going to wrestle both of us?” When the Avenger didn’t answer quickly enough to Ole’s satisfaction, Anderson derisively said, “You know any words??” The Avenger then came back and said, “No, no, I’m not going to wrestler you by myself…I’m going to get myself a partner!”

Now, Ole was intrigued. He questioned the Avenger, “Who you gonna get?! Who you gonna get?!” Then the Avenger gave the repeated responses that made this interview so memorable for me, saying, “Never mind…never mind.” Ole, getting frustrated, hollered, “Who you gonna get?” Again, the Avenger answered, “Never mind.” Now, Ole was in a full boil, screaming, “What do you mean never mind; who you gonna get?” AGAIN, the Avenger’s response was, “Never mind.”

Ole Anderson, doing his best to compose himself , continued, “Well, I tell you what, you go get your partner whoever it is, and you come back and I’ll wrestle you next week right here on television, how’s that? Does that suit you? Now tell me who’s it gonna be.” The Avenger’s answer was, “Never mind…I got a partner, and you’ll find out who it’s gonna be.” Ole lost his composure again, “Get him out of here! He can’t even talk…he doesn’t know what’s going on! I’ll wrestle you and anybody you bring into the ring. Some people think that we’re avoiding all this top talent. Whoever it happens to be, I don’t care. You bring in whoever you want Mr. Avenger, and we’ll wrestle him. But the guy should have a little courtesy…”

At this time, the Avenger, who had stepped away from the camera, stepped back into the picture. Ole chided him, “You back again?” The Avenger then said, “I’m back again.” Ole then lectured the masked man, “You should have a little courtesy and at least let me know who your man’s gonna be?” The Avenger, getting riled up himself exclaimed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole, egging him on, responded, “Who’s it gonna be…Kernodle…Furr?” The Avenger was now shouting nearly as loudly as Ole, and bellowed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole yelled in response, “Who ya got…who ya got?” The Avenger answered, “My partner next week…” but was then interrupted by Ole who said nastily, “I couldn’t care less!” The Avenger then assertively cut Ole off before he could utter another word, shouting, “FAT BOY, FAT BOY…my partner next week is gonna be PAUL JONES!!!” 

Ole was livid! Foaming at the mouth, Ole wailed, “WHAT??? PAUL JONES??? You bring this Jones out here…you can’t have Jones!! For what, to wrestle us… next week? You’re out of your mind!!” Even the normally silent partner Gene Anderson could be heard yelling in the background about the choice of Paul Jones! Gene and Ole were rightly upset about having to wrestle Paul Jones, as he was partly responsible for taking away their World Tag Team Titles a few days earlier. The Avenger used what would turn out to be his final Mid-Atlantic interview to put the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” in their place.

The match itself the following week was anti-climactic, as the Avenger was not able to use the bout against the Anderson’s as a springboard to get himself back into main event matches. Instead, the masked man continued slipping down the cards into preliminary matches before his exit from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in November of 1975.

I can remember to this day how the “never mind” responses from the Avenger were the talk of my circle of 10th grade wrestling friends at the time, to the point that any question to any of them had the distinct possibility of being answered with a “never mind,” followed by a big smile, all the way to the end of that school year! Never one for a doing a great promo, the masked Avenger managed to participate in a memorable one in his last interview, when he stood up to the bellicose Ole Anderson! Yes, I think the Avenger saved his best for last. And if you don’t think so, well, as the masked Avenger would say…never mind!

Photos of the Avenger on this post were provided by photographer Bill Janosik.