EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT IRON SHEIK & SUPERSTAR GRAHAM IN VEGAS!
by Dan Mirade --- Friday, April 17th, 2009 * 7:35PM
UPDATED Monday, April 19th, 2009 * 12:10AM
UPDATED Friday, April 24th, 2009 * 1:22AM
THE MADNESS BEHIND THE MANIA
An Inside Look At The Life & Career of WWE Hall of Famer
"SUPERSTAR" BILLY GRAHAM
Autographs - Posed Studio Photos - Studio Shoot Interview DVD Taping
Sunday, May 17th, 2009 - Melrose, MA
with hosts Dan Mirade, John Cena Sr. & wrestling historian The Jackal
Be part of a once in a lifetime experience and win huge prizes!
"Wow" is the first word that comes to mind when looking back to the 44th annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas, NV this week. . .here's a partial (PG rated) review of another memorable week. . .
In my never ending pursuit of a real vacation, I flew out of Boston Saturday afternoon with heat at home and little Mirade's excitement of the Easter Bunny's pending arrival that I would miss (although I'm sure the Easter Bunny "put them over", as is yearly tradition). They get a trip to Orlando, FL later in the month since I wasn't home for the holiday, not a bad trade off. A busy day of air travel, my connecting flight in Atlanta to Vegas was one of the nicest I can ever remember, a row in first class all to myself, all the complimentary alcohol I wanted and free PPV movies. I watched "The Wrestler" for the fourth or fifth time, and it was just as good on a plane as it was at the movies and on the critics review copy DVD that was given to me as a gift a few months back. If you haven't seen it yet, I believe it's coming out on commercial DVD this week if it hasn't already. . .I wasn't a huge fan of the finish, but it told a real life story that will resonate even if you aren't a wrestling addict. I flew into Sin City as the sun set over the never ending mountains and desert, a nice scene. . .the MWF's Beau Douglas arrived around 11PM and it was off to the strip. To my surprise, this crippled, broken down body lasted until 4:30AM. . .I figured I'd sleep in Sunday. . .
Easter Sunday, I was up around 9:30AM much to my surprise. I was informed that "Future Legend" Luke Robinson of John Bradshaw Layfield's "Uprising" faction was in town, luckily not staying at the same hotel as the rest of the CAC reunion. As intelligent as JBL is, I'm sure he stressed the importance of the knowledge that can be learned from the legends on hand, and that he did. Two trips to the wild Vegas strip kept me busy and got a little tanned. Taped a lot of MWF television here, there and everywhere. Another 4AM night. . .I was looking forward to a good nights sleep after a wonderful Easter dinner at McDonalds. I really wished I was home to see "the pop" that the Easter Bunny got, but it wasn't meant to be this year. . .
An early morning surprise visit from the maid led to another early morning (always remember the Do Not Disturb sign) rise. I went down and prepared the Millennium Wrestling Federation's promotional booth as wrestlers from every generation, fans, friends and extended members of my wrestling family poured in. A nice, easy afternoon, with the exception of 30 phone calls from the Iron Sheik looking for some money sent to him via Western Union so he could "get to the airport." Yeah. I got to meet my new friend Garry from MO in the afternoon, a first time CAC guest who never worked inside the business, great guy. There was a live wrestling card that I wanted to see to check out some of the independent talent from all over the country, but jewel cases prevented that from happening. Yes, jewel cases. No one in Las Vegas had a clue what I was looking for. The MWF home video DVD's were on fire, and since I didn't want to bring cases that would likely break on the plane, I needed some in a hurry. Walgreens, CVS, malls, no one had jewel cases. With a busy day ahead on Tuesday, desperation set in, so I spent the night trying to finish up MWF TV responsibilities and going store to store up and down the strip trying to find plastic DVD cases. What a vacation! It was a pain, but I got to see a lot of stores and casinos I've never been in before since I'm usually pretty busy out there. I was told Luke Robinson excelled in front of the legends, which shouldn't surprise anyone that's seen him compete. Yet, I don't understand why some of these athletes aren't trying to shove themselves down the cameras throats to get on our television programs as much as possible, especially where JBL has invested so much into his product and ours. . .I have to keep reminding myself that it's not 1993 anymore when I broke in and guys fought to get themselves over and face time. In the end, I hit the sack at 2AM. . .
Tuesday morning was another busy day. . .luckily, these 9AM awakenings were 12PM back home. After opening our convention booth, a moment I've been waiting almost seven years for took place. . .finally meeting my good friend "Superstar" Billy Graham face-to-face. CAC Executive Vice President Karl Lauer said we missed each other by moments Monday night, but all the waiting was over when Billy and my new, good friend "Big" Bill Anderson arrived at the booth next to ours. It was a pleasure, to say the least. In October 2002, some might remember that the MWF ran a live event fundraiser for Billy when he was extremely close to dying that's a column in it's own right. The event was sabotaged by a "big time" indy promoter in the area and the event almost didn't take place. My fingers are keyboard happy tonight, so look for a link to click on to get the real deal on that one. It was also my first introduction to "Big" Bill, a stand-up guy that was the real deal, not one of the BS sleazebags you find around wrestling sometimes. We hit it off like we'd been good friends for years. To me, that's what the extended family in wrestling is all about. Billy released his brand new t-shirt of one of his paintings "Don't Bleed On Me," which has to be seen and is a must own for any and all wrestling fans. Look for it soon on Billy's new Myspace page and on his official web-site once we get that bad boy up and running again.
Where In The World Is Sheiky Baby?? The thought that went through my mind all afternoon. For some unknown reason (until today after receiving an email from a fan), it took the Sheik well over two hours to get from the airport to the hotel (maybe a ten minute ride). The action and adventure that is Sheik was out in full force in Vegas. As soon as he walked in the door, he needed cold beer, he demanded an electronic wheel chair, he wanted. . .well, I could go on and on. After checking him in, we spotted Graham and some of the TNA ladies in Friday's. Sheik looked like Popeye after some spinach, leaping from his wheelchair and ran (in the wrong direction) to greet his longtime friend. Once he figured out he was at the elevators instead of Friday's, he turned around and hobbled into the restaurant for a only-in-wrestling reunion. Some indy guys from the mid-west spotted the Sheik and were big fans of the man. . .they joined the Sheik in his room for some "socializing" and made quite a home video for the fans down the road. "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal got a promo and a half left on his voicemail from the Sheik, who thought he was talking to Jeff Jarrett. We got Sheiky Baby ready for the Baloney Blowout dinner and bumped into Harley and BJ Race as I wheeled him down the hall. I'll never forget the look in BJ Race's eyes and on her face that said "oh my God, he's across the hall from us." In all his Sheik wisdom, still not really realizing what the CAC is all about leaped out of his wheelchair and goes "King Harley Race, small world bubba!" In the lobby, the man was mobbed like I've never seen before at a gathering like this. . .it annoyed the hell out of me since I was the one doing the wheeling on two bad feet myself. He posed for picture after picture after picture in the casino. After getting him up to the ballroom, he was mobbed all over again with folks that wanted to take pictures with him, then seeing his old friends and wanting to get up and stop and talk. I kid you not, it took close to an hour from the time we left the room to finally getting him seated. Billy Graham and I came up with a surprise for the Sheik at the Blowout (see below), but the Sheik all of a sudden wanted to sit with Harley Race at Nick Bockwinkle's table (that he wasn't a guest at). Imagine trying to move a three year old from Mickey Mouse at Disney World. In his loud tone, he asked me to ask Harley Race if he should move. . .I smartened Harley up and we got him where he needed to be for the presentation. After getting the Sheik a ham sandwich and fruit for dinner, a roving mic was brought over for Billy Graham. The "Superstar" still is the master on a live microphone. After putting over the CAC and some of the things he was up to, he talked about his good friend the Sheik and presented him with a hand painted portrait of himself. It was the real deal, a beautiful piece of artwork. The look on the Sheik's face was priceless. He got up, hobbled over to Billy and took the mic as I held my breath. Surprisingly, it was a great moment for both legends. The Sheik gave it a "pleasure for me to be in the Las Vegas at Cauli Alley. . .what's this called again?" No swearing, just a happy Sheik. Later in the evening, the mic went over to Sgt. Slaughter, and before I knew it, the Sheik was up on his feet and went over to join his formal rival, mentioning their infamous "Camp Boot match" from the 80's. As the evening was closing out, the Sheik's old friend Ken Patera was talking in the back of the room, and with zombie like speed, the Sheik was off to talk to Patera. It was surreal. . .
After the Blowout was over, we rushed Sheik back to his room to avoid the masses wanting to pose for another thousand photos. A couple of the guys gave us a hand as we rushed the wheelchair through the open casino. He wanted a half hour for the fans to clear out and wanted to go back. I needed a rest something severe so I relaxed for a few in the hotel room. The phone was ringing off the hook from people in the lobby. . .went back to get Sheiky, and he was laying on his bed with a towel wrapped around his head and a pillow over himself, saying he needed another half hour. . .then another 15 minutes. Tired of being the world's most underpaid babysitter, I went down to the bar and figured I'd hear from him once he was ready. Lucky for me, the call didn't come that night! Billy and I talked shop with some ideas we have when Ken Patera popped in. I don't ever remember meeting Ken and enjoyed a long talk with him about the proverbial good old days in New England. He's not a big fan of the old Springfield Civic Center, to say the least and remembered the Jackal from Mass Madness. . .I'm usually reserved around a large group of people I don't know (a Virgo thing, I guess), but I loved hearing his stories. Later on, Terry Funk and his wife joined us. . .Mrs. Funk is quite the character. And that was Tuesday. . .
Up bright and early Wednesday to get ready for the Sheik's personal appearance. As I set up the booth, I sent Beau Douglas to see if Sheik wanted anything to eat for breakfast. To my surprise, he said that Sheik already ate. "How could he leave the room on his own?", I thought. The two Billy's were down bright and early for another big day before Graham gave of his time to run a free seminar for the younger athletes on hand. The Sheik arrived to another mob scene at 12PM, and he and Billy Graham held court in another feel good moment; it was something special and I hope the fans will enjoy the video footage of it. Keeping him tame was a challenge in and of itself. A long line of fans came through to meet and greet the Sheik, before he met some great fans and now new friends from CA that drove five hours to meet the legend up close and personal. At the end of the session, we brought the Sheik up to his room for more "socializing." I put on the Sheik's TV and the menu displayed a large room service order, far more than for one person. I wouldn't have cared, but it was under my name on my credit card! The Sheik isn't the only one that can cut a promo. He decided to entertain whatever guests showed up at his room late into the previous and wanted me to cover it. A room service battle carried over to our infamous car crash in August 2005, money, etc., etc. After a hostile hour of spitting, swearing and calling me every name in the book, I got the usual Sheik (I.e. "I love you bubba, you are family, you know the Iron Sheik better than I know the Iron Sheik"). His mood swings are like dealing with two or three different people all at the same time. The awards banquet was a nice evening, seeing a lot of old faces coming in different directions. The Sheik was tired again, so he left a little early (thank God for small miracles). After all the awards were presented and Karl Roach's version of "Our Way," we met up with the Billy's at Friday's. The Superstar was in the middle of working on something big that will be announced shortly; kayfabe remains golden. A few of the TNA Knockouts came in, girls that go out to the ring and get the job done in the ring, not the nameless, cookie cutter "diva's" that I can't stand watching and add nothing to a wrestling program. Friday's was nice enough to stay open an extra two hours for us and that was probably the highlight of the whole trip. . .even the trip up the elevator where the doors ripped off the knob of my cane was amusing. . .and six hours later, off to the airport for a long trip home until next year. Having to hold Sheik's hand can be stressful and mentally tiring, but I found myself laughing at it 30,000 feet in the air once it was finally over. What a week. . .history and hysteria rolled up into one. As always, I left Las Vegas remembering all the good that this insane sport represents. . .priceless!
What really happened with Sheiky Baby at the airport?? In his room?? What is Billy Graham's next big move?? Look for more stories, photos, videos and more coming from an exciting week in Vegas. . .
For more information on the Cauliflower Alley Club, click here
Ken Patera & "Superstar" Billy Graham
Luna Vachon & Billy Graham
Billy Graham & Terry Funk
Harley Race, The Iron Sheik & Billy Graham!