In the old Mid-South Coliseum, brutal and chaotic matches between The Moondogs and The Fabulous Ones left the ring apron stained with blood night after night. The matches were revolutionary in wrestling, as Moondog Rex (Randy Colley) and Moondog Spot (Larry Booker) garnered their hardcore reputation across the country.
To commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of the death of Moondog Spot, WrestleNewz.com tracked down Randy Colley to chat about The Moondogs, hardcore matches, and the good old days of territorial rasslin’.
Check out part 1 here. Here’s part 2:
WNZ: Tell us about The Moondogs’ tour of Japan, working for New Japan Pro Wrestling?
RC: We worked for (Antonio) Inoki’s bunch and I loved it. The guys that was on the trip was Dick Murdoch, Bill Eadie, Canek from Mexico, and Rip Oliver was on it, I think. I knew everybody that was on that trip, and man, we had a good time. Andre tried to get me to stay, and even offered to fly us down to the southern part of Japan and lay on the beach for two weeks, before having us come back for a five-week tour.
But then Vince calls from New York — my wife gave him my number and he called me at the hotel — and said, “We need you back in New York,” as he started giving me my days that I was going to wrestle. So I told (Seiki) Sakaguchi, he came around that night and asked if I was going to stay, and I said, “Well, I just talked to Vince about going back to work.” So he just closed his book and got up and left. And I thought, what the hell, because he’d been really, really good to us, then he just got up and left and acted like I just stepped on the cat’s tail or something.
Later, I found out that Vince was trying to take Japan, so they obviously had a problem with him there.
WNZ: The Moondogs also seemed like a perfect fit for Puerto Rico’s bloody and violent World Wrestling Council territory…
RC: Oh yeah, it really was, and we were there for close to a year. We ended up with the Caribbean belts, the North American belts, and the World belts while we were there.
Then there were the chain matches and barbed-wire matches and the fire matches. They were just unreal and unbelievably violent in Puerto Rico. After we left Puerto Rico and went to Georgia, it was kind of a step up, but they were running us ragged there too. We were going to the Carolinas one week and Oklahoma the next, then back to Georgia and back to the Carolinas, then back to Oklahoma (laughs). And even though you would fly to the first location, you had to make the rest of the trips by car.
WNZ: The Moondogs engaged in memorable feuds in the WWF against The Wild Samoans and The British Bulldogs. Did you and Spot gel better with brawlers or scientific teams?
RC: The Samoans were good, but for our style and everything, some of our very best matches were against The British Bulldogs. We could just do so many things with them in the ring, and oh god, they were just unreal. Besides The Fabulous Ones, they were my favourite team to work with. But The Fabulous Ones will always be my favourite.
WNZ: It could be argued The Moondogs were the true innovators of hardcore wrestling, as you were the first to fill the entire ring with wooden tables, chairs, ring bells, ring steps, crutches, garbage cans, and other weaponry in your bloody matches against The Fabulous Ones. What kind of direction were you given by promoters in those battles that often spilled into the crowd?
RC: They said, “Just do whatever it takes to make things work,” so we kind of hit it in certain direction and there was no stopping it. So in those wild brawls you’re talking about, we hardly ever had just a one, two, three pin finish, y’know. And usually, we’d just end up fighting all the way back to the dressing room covered in blood. So I’d say, “What are we all going to do for a finish tomorrow” and they’d say, “The same thing!” So it just kept going and getting wilder and bloodier, and that’s what people came to expect from The Moondogs and Fabulous Ones. And the door was always open for us in Memphis.
WNZ: And how about that classic Memphis wrestling music video you made back in the ’80s, crawling through that swamp in Mississippi?
RC: It was actually filmed in Tennessee (laughs), and that was one nasty place! They had us climb into an awful swamp on Jerry Jarrett’s farm, close to where (country music legend) Bobby Bare lives, and golly — that was indeed a swamp and it was one bad-smelling place to be.
WNZ: You live near water in Alexander City, Alabama these days, right?
RC: Yeah, I live right in the middle of the state close to Lake Martin, and I’ve got a pontoon boat. I go down to the lake and play with my dogs, and that’s about it. I go to these wrestling conventions sometimes and I see a lot of guys in wheelchairs and walkers, walking with canes with their smashed up knees and shoulders all messed up, y’know. Compared to a lot of wrestlers, I was lucky and made it through without any real, real bad injuries.
WNZ: As your career began to wind down, you traveled often to wrestle abroad in England and Germany. How well did you adapt to the British and European style of wrestling?
RC: Well, it was a lot of different rules, y’know, because they had rounds and it was really confusing ’cause you’re not used to somebody interrupting you and stopping the match every five minutes. I remember having some great momentum going and then the round ends and I’m thinking, “What the fuck?”
There were lots of other rules too, like you couldn’t just take someone down with an arm drag, you had to take him down differently, and all those little things make a big difference. But once you got used to it, it wasn’t so bad. But I remember how they’d have eight minutes of wrestling and three minutes of rest time. And when the building was cold you’d just start getting warmed up when they stop the match and you’d end up cooling down. It was really kind of bad that way, but they eventually came around, getting educated to the American way of wrestling.
WNZ: Did you wrestle as your Moondog persona in Europe?
RC: Yeah, the way I saw it, I figured one “Moondog” being advertised meant just as much as two, and it was half the expense. I had just turned 40 when I went to Germany and England, so I was kind of riding on my past reputation. My world-wide recognition as a Moondog in the WWF came later in my career, so that worked out good for me that I was able to travel abroad with that name, because everything had dried up in the States. If you didn’t work for the WCW or the WWF at that time, you just didn’t work, because all the territories were gone.
It’s a real shame the little territories aren’t around anymore for people to go to.
WNZ: Tell us about the territories, as you wrestled everywhere from the AWA to Southeastern Championship Wrestling to the USWA.
RC: When I first started in the business, there was like 16 to 18 territories, and you would just go from one to another. There was three in Tennessee, there was Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona, there were two in Texas, and you could just work your way around and do everything because TVs didn’t overlap. And there was two territories in Florida, in Pensacola and through the Panhandle there and Panama City. Further down was Eddie Graham’s territory and he went from Tallahassee to Tampa to Miami, and it was just unreal because the TVs didn’t overlap.
And when the TVs started overlapping, it just kind of changed everything dramatically overnight. If you were over in Florida and the TVs from Florida would go to Georgia, your next step should be goin’ to the Georgia territory. That would be a pretty safe move, and after a year in Georgia, you’d go back to Florida and everybody would have seen you being a champion on TV in Georgia. So when you went back everything was just fine. But it changed overnight.
WNZ: When did you know it was time for The Moondogs to move on from the WWF?
RC: We had good heat when we first went to New York, around the winter time up there, and it was just unreal and one of the highlights of my career. But when it was over, it was over. Our last match, I think, was in Tulsa, Oklahoma against Junkyard Dog…and somebody else.
That was just pretty much it. By the mid-80s, I was kind of dissatisfied with our position in New York, because we had been the tag team champions before. I remember Bob Backlund, in the Middle East told me that it’s not my time to go back there right now, and how they had a problem with Tony Atlas so they took the belts off them (Atlas and Rocky Johnson) and put them on Adonis and Murdoch.
So after finishing up in Tennessee, the only option we had was the WWF, and that’s when Vince Sr. called — and his word was like gold — and said you ain’t got nothing to worry about. But the next thing you know, he got colon cancer and he died really quickly. And Vince Jr. just didn’t have the same plans for us, it was just one of those things. And when I finished up, it was kind of unexpected. I wasn’t happy with the spot they had us in, so Vince Jr. said, “Hey, take off for about a year and come back and we’ll do something else.” And I kind of said, “When should we finish up?” and he said, “Well, how about now?” (Sigh) It was somethin’.
WNZ: Where did you wrestle the very last match of your career?
RC: My very first match was in Jackson, Georgia, and my very last match — I was 45 years old — was in Jackson, Mississippi. I remember it well. I was on the way back home when I stopped to get me a cold drink somewhere and everything hurt so bad. I said to myself, “It’s time to let it go.”
WNZ: How did you adjust to life as a retired wrestler?
RC: I worked in the bail bond business before finding an enjoyable career remodelling houses. All the people I knew from wrestling are pretty much gone. And you know, it was like 10 years after the wrestling business was over with, at about 7:30 at night, I’d start to pace the floor because it was bell time. Now it’s bedtime. It’s gone from bell time to bedtime — and I guess it’s just one of those things. It’s hard to find anything to take the place of something that you love to do — like how I loved rasslin’.
WNZ: This November, it will be 10 years since your partner Spot died in the ring. How did you hear the news?
RC: A friend called and I couldn’t believe it, y’know. Larry was like two years younger than me. He was like 50 years old when it happened, and I was like, “What?!”
WNZ: When was the last time you saw him?
RC: I think it was 1990, and he was pretty much wrestling on the independents. Because if you didn’t work for WCW or WWF at that time, you didn’t make any money and you didn’t work on a regular basis. He had another job doing something, but I can’t remember what he was doing.
But it was getting real lean and a lot of the guys just said, hey it’s time to pack it in. If Vince was through with you, and you tried to stick it out and stay longer, you’d just end up getting further and further down the card, and that’s what happened to The Moondogs.
And in all of the towns too, for Spot to die — Memphis, Tennessee — that was his favourite place to be. He’d rather be in Memphis, Tennessee than in Madison Square Garden any day.