I certainly want to mention the next WrestleReunion convention in Los Angeles Jan 29th-31st which presents Rob Van Dam, The Great Muta, Jushin Thunder Liger and Bruno Sammartino along with several other names and two nights of wrestling. You can get all needed information at www.wrestlereunion.com.
There is the death of Eki “Umaga” Fatu who although I wasn’t very close to
him I was very close to his brothers and the rest of his family the Anoai’s.
Then of course there is the lawsuit that has taken up so much of my life for
the last two years and even before that WrestleReunion vs. Clear Channel now
operating as Live Nation Television Holdings Inc.
I could have written about any and all of those things and probably should have already but I just wasn’t getting the motivation to write about it. I knew that sooner or later a topic would come to me. I received a phone call from “Carolina’s Own” David Isley that I couldn’t take because I was on the phone with T-Mobile. I then got a call from Rikki Nelson just as I was getting off the phone with T-Mobile and I saw a text from David Isley telling me that our old tag team partner and RAT Patrol member Cary “Colt Steele” Jackson had died from a heart attack. I had spoken about Colt this year with Michael Bochicchio of Highsots.com he told me that Colt trained him to wrestle it was something that I didn’t know. What I did know was that Colt had probably trained him right. He was just the kind of guy that could do it.
It was 1988 when I was working for the Crocketts' part time and was still being used by the New York State Athletic Commission on Indy and WWF events. It was somewhere in late 1988 when “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff told me that he had arranged a tryout for me with Nelson Royal for his new promotion. It was quite exciting because Nelson already had a deal where the show would air on the NBC affiliate WCNC TV 36 in Charlotte. I was to go down to Charlotte in November and making the booking. I would get to do one match and they would determine if I was any good or not. It was kind of intimidating because I wouldn’t know a lot of the guys but it was my chance at a real break in the business.
I got to Nikita’s house and after a short visit I drove to the building with his wife Mandy. It wasn’t long after I arrived that I found out that no other referee’s had shown up and I would have to do all the matches. It was that night that I first met two guys that I would still have regular interaction with over twenty years later David Isley and Rikki Nelson. In the long run I got the job and moved to Concord NC in February of 1989. It wasn’t long after the territory was in action that a guy came around named Colt Steele. He was a very quiet guy that everyone else knew and I had really never heard of. I came to find out that he had been trained by Nelson Royal along with many of the other younger guys that Nelson was looking to push. He eventually became part of the territory and was a good hand. He was a strong guy that could bump his ass off. He worked as a heel but I found out later although he didn’t like it was much he was a great babyface. He wasn’t a great talker so he would have needed a manager to really get over even in the old days but he could work. I always thought he would have been a great second man in a tag team.
If you think about an in shape “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers you would have had
Colt Steele. I remember one time Colt was wrestling Sam Houston in some
Charlotte suburb he came into the territory once his dad Grizzly Smith took
over the book. I don’t know what happened but something went wrong during the
match. The next thing I knew Colt was firing up on Sam, Sam look terrified and
he should have been Colt had a long fuse but he wasn’t one to fool with. It
was clear Sam pissed him off I heard him say something to the effect of “Don’t
you ever screw around with me again”. After that Colt settled down and got
back to working with Sam. Once the match was over and I got back to the
dressing room I told his dad things got rough in there. He said “yeah I could
see that. I never knew what caused it but I also never saw it happen again
with Colt. He just wasn’t one for many guys to fool with.
I can remember another night when a very young Ken Shamrock was booked against Colt. It was clear to us that the new kid on the block was very tough but very new to the business. I was getting ready for the matches when Colt approached me and was really concerned he had been told go twenty minutes through with Shamrock and couldn’t imagine how he could pull it off. In this match the young Steele was clearly the veteran but not seasoned enough to carry someone who was just starting to a twenty minute Broadway. I told Colt he should figure it out since all the young guys had all the answers lately. He said no I will do whatever you tell me to do if you just help me.
So I went to Shamrock and laid the thing out for him. He was very agreeable
to everything. Those two guys tore the house down doing almost nothing. This
story continued several years later when a much more schooled Ken Shamrock was
now booked against Chris “Tatanka” Chavis. I was approached by Shamrock he
said “Can you help me out with Chavis liked you helped Colt out with me”. I
said sure and those two guys tore the house down.
It was shortly after my trip to Australia for Rob Russen’s IWA where I did double duty as a referee and as Friday the handler of Kamala that Ugandan Giant that “The Big Cheese” was born. I named my group the Rat Patrol so being the leader of the Rat Patrol I thought that “The Big Cheese” was a good name. We got back to Carolina and started working shows for “The Wild Thing” Willie Clay. At the time The Rat Patrol idea was being born we were babyfaces but in time Colt and Isley and I turned heel.
We had a lot of fun working for CCW in Concord and the surrounding area.
I could tell stories forever about the good times and police escorts to our
cars. We had heat and although the crowds were small in those days they were
vocal and hated what the big mouth from NYC and his local boys (Colt and
David) were doing to their hero Willie Clay. We eventually had enough and
turned babyface joining together with Willie it was safer that way. We talk
about the fun and the good times we had almost every week. I hadn’t seen Colt
Steele in years since I don’t live in North Carolina anymore and an earlier
heart attack put him out of the business. I can remember an outdoor show that
we did for Willie when some local loud mouth fan who couldn’t stand me hit the
ring Colt started putting the boots to the guy. The guy had to be nuts I’m
sure he could have taken me but Colt would have killed him.
It is a shame that Colt isn’t remembered more he had worked Kansas City and Florida he even toured Japan once. There are You Tube matches of him out there I am going to provide a link of one against Tommy Angel where I was actually the referee it is in two parts. The other is a match from his Japan tour. I can honestly say that day’s at Willie’s CCW were just a bunch of guys getting together that loved the business busting their tails to entertain people. It wasn’t very lucrative but I smile when I think about those days. We had so much heat that as soon as your music hit people were booing and throwing stuff.
Boy oh boy, those were the days, the guys that we worked with “Gorgeous” Gary Royal, Rikki Nelson, Rick and Speedy “The Ringlords”, “The Beastmaster” Rick Link, Nick of Time, Mabel and Mo who later went on to WWF, along with top names that came in from time to time. We would have guys like Jim Cornette and Stan Lane, The Freebirds, “The Raging Bull” Manny Fernandez, The Koloffs and the list goes on and on. If I left anyone out I am sorry what I am really focused on now is that three of the guys we worked with not that long ago are already gone they are The Bulldozer, The Buddah, and now my friend Colt Steele RIP in Cary Jackson you won’t ever be forgotten.