By Jim Phillips, Senior Editor – Classic Wrestling
Hello wrestling fans, and welcome back to the land of the Roaring Silverback. While my forte is normally bringing the history of the business to the fans that love it, this week I’m here to chronicle a different happening in the wrestling world.
Many of us that lived in an era once gone in wrestling, who remember what true heat was, miss the days of the unpredictability in matches and during interviews. Sometimes when you put guys together that have a combustibility, whether it be by past interactions or simply the behavior of an individual, things can quickly pick up steam and the train can go off the rails.
This past Saturday, January 26th, a similar incident took place on Long Island, New York at the Village Connection Radio Network. Monte and the Pharaoh is a weekly, wrestling focused radio program that looks at all facets of the business from the weekly happenings on television, to the star studded cast of current and legendary workers that visit the show periodically. They have hosted such stars as Tito Santana, Abdullah the Butcher, Larry Zbyzsko, Shane Douglas, New Jack and Mustafa, Greg Valentine, Cowboy Bob Orton, Lanny Poffo and Dominic DeNucci, just to touch on a few of their guests
They recently attempted to host former Rocker, Marty Jannetty a second time on their show and put him on a special Saturday Edition. In order for the full impact of what happened to be understood, I feel it necessary to relate a little about why his first appearance on the show, was less than desirable, let’s say. I had spoken with Jimmy Pharaoh briefly about it on my trip to do the Evan Ginzburg Radio program, which is recorded in the same building. After that he relayed the story to me and I’ll pass the gist of it along to you, before we talk about Marty’s second trip to the studio.
Marty had initially been booked to come on the show in June, 2018. He was being driven to the show by a local “person in the biz”, who was believed to have a beef with the boys at the show. Said person took liberties with Marty’s willingness, and lack of control, to party beyond his abilities to remain coherent. Whatever the case, and however the circumstances unfolded to bring Jannetty to the studio in that state of mind, his appearance speaks for itself. (I don’t want to seem one-sided in this, so video of both appearances will be provided.)
Before the show began, Marty had visited the bathroom several times in true “80s fashion”, and was acting erratically, and under obvious intoxication of alcohol. He was also covered in flour from his visit to a pizza parlor just prior to the event. This being said, he insisted that he was ok to proceed, and with all the logistics in place that had been required to make the interview happen, the decision was made to attempt the interview. It rapidly became apparent that all he wanted to talk about was random sexual dalliances, and partying with the boys, as he mumbled and stammered his way through the first few moments of the show. I spoke with The Pharaoh and he told me about tending to Jannetty that morning:
“It was our first ever public signing with a major name. Being two lifelong wrestling fans, and me knowing Monte since we were in Junior High, this a super exciting moment for us, you know. I was a like a super excited kid that morning. We’ve got a good formula going at the show and I was psyched. Here comes our first guest, and he steps out of the car, and he’s loaded in pizza flour and totally crocked. Mike and I took him to the bathroom, Mike was in there cleaning him off, and I remember not knowing how to feel about this whole thing. I didn’t know whether to cry, just on the humanity level because he was just such a mess, or to laugh at the whole absurdity of the whole situation.”
The interview barely made it to fifteen minutes, before it became unmanageable and Jannetty was too far gone to continue. You can see the trio attempting to keep things together but it was just not going to happen, and Ginzburg quickly wrapped the interview up. The disappointment was visible on their faces and the body language of co-host Michael Monte was visible and he also had this to say about that appearance:
“He was our first big guest. so we wanted to try to let him go on if he was able, and he said that he was. I regret now letting him appear in that state, but he’s supposed to act like a professional, and that’s not what we got.”
They did their best to try to get his best out, but after it was all said and done, the interview was less than an achievement and more of a look at life imitating art as Jannetty was a living image of the cliche “down and out” wrestler that reminded me of the character Mickey Rourke portrayed in The Wrestler, only without Randy the Ram’s desire to change his course. Marty, for all intents and purposes, seemed to still be stuck in his 1990‘s Rocker facade of a reality.
The fallout for Monte and the Pharaoh hung over them like a black cloud of doubt concerning the future that slowly turned into the realization that they were better, than to have been treated that way and they began to take reprisals of the situation out against Marty on their show, as well as on their social media. Jimmy (Pharaoh) summed it pretty well when he said:
“At the end of the day, that was a train wreck and we paid the guy for his services and this is what he gave us. Mike and I were both in agreement that he didn’t deserve to get a pass for this. So basically, we mercilessly bashed him on the show. Mike was hammering him much harder than me, but who am I to tell a man how to feel, and I felt he was justified in that, and I’d take my jabs as well because I knew that was not right, what happened with us.”
Over the course of the next few months, while this was going on, it became known to them that Marty had a problem with what was being said. He had contacted the station to try and get the pair to stop what they were saying. Now, any fan of their show knows that there is a slim chance of that happening. It is their outspokenness that makes their show such a draw to me. It’s a delight to watch for any fan that loves to hear about the working of the wrestling business.
The underlying story here that speaks out to me is one of a man that is struggling to keep his life in the lanes, and not run off course so bad that he can’t be brought back, whether on his own or with the help of friends. It seemed as though Jannetty had began to right his sails and collect himself, and in December, the three men began talking again about having Marty on the show to put the record straight and make amends for his first appearance. His agent reached out and said he was going to be on the East Coast and wanted to try to do the show over again. The booking was made and that rolls us into Saturday, January 26th. With the way the show had been marketed as a “Round Two” interview, it may have been cursed before it even began, but they forged ahead into the madness of pro wrestling politics.
Monte and Station Manager Jim Savalli arrived at the station early, to prepare for the day. Marty showed up a little after them. It looked like things were going to get off on a good foot, until few verbal shots were exchanged between Monte and Jannetty, exposing the tensions that they both still had about their previous meeting and the months that followed. The Pharaoh showed up just in time to hear that things were showing signs of ruffled feathers. Jimmy describes the tone of the room when he walked in:
“I walk in and Marty is sitting there with a mug, and Monte is on the other side of the room. Marty lightened up a little bit when he saw me, so that was good. Then we start the interview and I’m trying to get to the bottom of what’s wrong, and what has happened prior to the show. I just wanted to understand why things went this way.”
The video of the first part of the show speaks for itself. The heat between Monte and Jannetty reaches a that instance of critical mass and the scene explodes. It begins to be obvious that Marty wants to get physical and lay hands on Monte as soon as he begins to sit forward in his seat and takes on a posture of aggression. The military background of Monte overtook him a little, and he begins to openly knock Jannetty on the live show. It was when the duo began to argue among themselves about the line they should be taking, Pharaoh stands up and exclaims, “Why don’t you just get it over with.” That was like the push over the edge that Marty was looking for and he rushed Monte and delivered a straight shot to his jaw.
Things completely fall apart at that point, with Jimmy grabbing Marty, who is on the floor swinging away on Monte. The stationary camera never stopped rolling but they were out of frame of view, but the audio remains. Punches were exchanged and the whole thing fell apart rapidly. The look on The Pharaoh’s face shows the reality of the situation after they are pulled apart. It is one of the best pieces of real heat footage that I’ve seen in quite some time.
Now I am fully aware that there are going to be those cynical Suzies, and armchair bookers that want to say that…”it looks like a work to me”, and I’ve already heard this from more than a couple people. To them I will say this: There is plenty of ego in the business, and when some of these old school guys have an issue, they will throw a few punches, have a drink or two, and then the whole thing will be rear-viewed to them, like there was never an issue. I have seen a few of these type of things happen at indy shows, and at bars after the event of the evening, but it is a rare thing when you get to catch it on live running video.
Marty exhibited this old school mentality, and when he realized what he had done, as you hear on the audio, they all took a step back to let things cool off. They did manage to go on and finish the show, with everyone involved trying to rise above the chaos and deliver a quality product. It is quite possible that it was all therapeutic in the end for them all, but the road they took to finding their collective peace was a rocky one indeed.
Unpredictability is ever constant in this business of egos, and accelerated aggression. I remember seeing the WCW crew come to Southern Illinois University for a show and their gear never got there in time for them and they all had to work in their street clothes and whatever they could find last minute to wear. I also remember seeing Angelo Mosca take a cane to Joe Kapp in 2011 over heat that happened between them back in 1963. When the volitality builds between these personalities, on both sides of the camera, you never know for sure what may happen. When it does boil over, it is always something to remember.
I want to thank Monte and The Pharaoh for being so open and available to me over the last few days. I would also like to extend an invitation to Marty Jannetty to an interview to tell his side of this story. I attempted to reach out to him but have never heard anything back as of yet. I really hope that he gets some long-term help, and someone is able to reach out to him, before we’re all talking about him in the past tense. We lose too many of our favorite stars each year as it is, without racking them up to preventable losses.
Well that will wrap this one up kids. I’ll see you right here next Tuesday for another trip into the back halls and elusive corners of the wrestling business. You never know what the Rocky Mountain High Hat is going to throw at ya! Until then Bruthas and Sistas…..Peace.