WWE Legends - Superstar Billy Graham: Tangled Ropes
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'The man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour!' That was how Superstar Billy Graham described himself, and who could argue? Graham was perhaps the single most influential performer of the past thirty years, and the mark of that influence can be found in Superstars ranging from Hulk Hogan to Scott Steiner. His outrageous ring attire and Muhammad Ali-style interviews were a breath of fresh air during an era when sports entertainment was much more bare-bones than it is today. Just as fans flocked to see the Superstar compete in the ring, so they loved to listen to him pontificate on the microphone, even if he was bad-mouthing the Superstars they held dear. With his equally colourful manager the Grand Wizard at his side, Graham toppled Bruno Sammartino from his WWE Championship perch for the last time on April 30, 1977. He went on to hold the prize for nearly ten months, the longest reign for any ring villain in WWE history to this day. Clad in tie-dye and feather boas, the Superstar was a sign of things to come, and boasted a chiselled, muscular physique that was very unique at the time. During the late 1980s, he made a brief return to WWE competition, and even enjoyed stints as a manager and broadcaster. Graham has experienced it all and he's going to be talking about it in this book, with stories about all the legendary wrestlers -- including Sammartino, Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka and Sergeant Slaughter -- that no true wrestling fan will want to miss.
Predictably, we turned my entire hip replacement process into a World Wrestling Federation story line, beginning with a vignette of myself in Dr. Dorr’s office. Dorr displayed a model skeleton for the camera, explaining the upcoming procedure—and omitting any reference to steroid abuse. This being wrestling, he referred to me as “Superstar,” as opposed to “Wayne” or “Mr. Coleman.” “Superstar has a destroyed hip with a smashed head of his femur, which is the ball of the joint,” he said. “We are
form of child abuse.” Unfortunately for Vince, the steroid controversy erupted at the same time as another scandal. “Ring boys”—kids who worked on the ring crew, and carried the wrestlers’ robes back to the dressing room—had been part of wrestling since the days when matches were staged in carnival tents, and a number even became wrestlers themselves. Now stories were beginning to circulate in the media that a few had been molested by World Wrestling Federation employees. Some unsuccessful
the billiards parlor were petrified. The lion leaped up on one pool table, then jumped to another and jumped to the next. It was complete chaos—billiard balls were spilling to the floor, bouncing and clanging everywhere, people were screaming, and we were laughing. The health club folded pretty quickly. Neither of us wanted to be there. We just wanted to goof around. Terry had a friend named Tom who was always taking downers— Quaaludes especially. We’d be out partying somewhere, pick up some
yelling about what happened: “You should have just beat that old tub up.” This was not an isolated occurrence. Because of my size—and the fact that I was getting a “push” before I even knew that wrestling was worked—guys were testing me constantly, hoping to expose some dents in the armor. Billy Robinson was an expert shooter who exploited his nefarious knowledge to physically harm his opponents. I was a green musclehead who barely knew how to apply a half nelson. Yet I was savvy enough to avoid
that I’d be arriving at the Garden an hour or so into the show—and work out at the Mid-City Gym until about 8:00 P.M. I’m proud to say that, as champion, I didn’t need a strong undercard to support me. My name sold out buildings by itself. But if I dared ask for a ticket for a friend, I was sent on a guilt trip, like the company was going to collapse because of my request. This didn’t come from Vince Sr. but from the cabal that surrounded him—old-timers like Phil Zacko, Willie Gilzenberg, and