February 9, 2004
Devastation Inc. re-incorporates at Wrestlecon
By STEVEN JOHNSON -- SLAM! Wrestling
ARLINGTON, TX - There they were again, just like they used to be, lined up side-by-side with dangerous implements in their hands.
Except this time, instead of wreaking wrestling carnage throughout the Southwest, members of Devastation Incorporated were breaking into smiles, swapping wisecracks, and using their knives and forks for food instead of sport.
Devastation Incorporated - Mick "Cactus Jack" Foley, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, The Missing Link, and their chieftain, General Skandor Akbar - were the featured guests at last weekend's Wrestlecon fan festival.
"This is really a touching moment," Akbar told about 100 guests at a banquet Saturday night. "It's great that people remember Devastation Incorporated. I think we made our mark in professional wrestling."
The event marked the first reunion in more than 15 years for one of pro wrestling's most memorable and heinous ensembles. Akbar's charges dominated the Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling and other areas in the 1980s.
The legendary wild and wooly action at the Dallas Sportatorium, the clever angles and feuds with the likes of the Von Erich family, and the sheer intensity of the matches remains with fans and wrestlers.
"I've always felt that Dallas was really the place where things kind of took off for me, but where I also had the best time of my career," said Foley, who has since graduated to icon status in the world of wrestling.
Organized by memorabilia show promoter Britt Britton, Wrestlecon played to solid, enthusiastic crowds all weekend. The lineup also included Rick Steiner, Steve "Dr. Death" Williams, Red Bastien, Kevin Von Erich, Al Snow, Killer Tim Brooks, Cowboy Johnny Mantell, and Killer Karl Kox.
The distaff side was well represented by Ivory, Kimberly Page, "Queen of Extreme" Francine, Baby Doll, and NWA-TNA's Lollipop.
If Wrestlecon was any indication, Devastation Incorporated is still in fighting shape - witness an impromptu assault by the Link on Killer Tim Brooks in a corner of the host Arlington Convention Center. And Akbar, dressed in full Middle Eastern garb with Kamala and the Link, angrily growled, "Where are the Von Erichs? Bring them on!"
Of course, it was no guarantee that successfully battling the Von Erichs was a cinch in the glory days of Texas wrestling. As he sat just a few feet from Kevin Von Erich, Bundy recalled, "When he leaned back into the ropes with that big right, you just hoped you'd see your family again."
The respect was mutual, though. Von Erich, though noted for his fantastic high-flying moves, said Kamala (James Harris), the Ugandan Giant, did things that wowed him. "Kamala could jump up at 350 pounds and touch his toes like a baby," Von Erich said. "That was impressive."
That's why Dallas radio personality Chris Myers, who hosts a radio wrestling program, could praise the in-ring work and wrestling psychology of Devastation Incorporated, saying many fans "wouldn't know what a heel was without these guys."
The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday night dinner and open mike that brought forth legendary tales of the road.
The Link, aka Dewey Robertson, said Akbar kept his traveling companions in stitches by inserting their names into prominent newspaper stories he read aloud.
"'In the White House today, the Senators Dewey Robertson and John Mantell' ... he'd put in certain names, and he would keep you laughing and he would keep you awake the whole distance." Robertson said.
Bundy lovingly recalled the since-destroyed Sportatorium as the "quintessential arena," even though it was dilapidated and beyond repair.
"You could see the holes in it - it was hotter than hell in the summer, and you'd freeze your butt off in the winter," he said.
"When I think back at the Sportatorium, of all the places I've wrestled - a lot nicer places, a lot bigger buildings - but the Sportatorium, as a place to start off ... it just didn't get any better than that."
And what Foley-Snow get-together would be complete without a display of good-natured one-upsmanship?
Said Foley as he approached the dais at the banquet: "I never thought I'd really see this today ... the same room together, the first time, I think ... Karl Kox and Al Snow. 'The Killer' and the ratings killer."
Foley complained about traveling with the likes of Snow and Bob Holly, who watched their diets religiously as athletes-in-training.
They wanted to eat the same thing every day, no matter what state we were in," he mused. "When I was in Louisiana, I wanted to eat Cajun food. When I was in Texas, I wanted to eat barbecue."
Snow quickly interrupted: "That's not true. Wherever we went, you always wanted to eat the same - free!"
This time, Foley acquiesced to his long-time foil. "You made a valid point there. Score one for Al," he said.
The sparring continued into Sunday, when the Link, in full gear, spotted Brooks, now a wrestling trainer in his native Texas, and took off after his old nemesis. Toting chair and chain, they renewed hostilities for a minute, much to the glee of onlookers.
"I didn't come here to wrestle on a Sunday morning," Brooks announced with mock indignation. "I'm not going to be jumped from behind. Do it to my face!"
Fan attendance was strong - several attendees said it was at least double that of the inaugural Wrestlecon last fall - and Britton said he plans to continue to stage wrestling festivals.
"There's a lot of interest, not just from the fans, but from the wrestlers," he said.
Steven Johnson is a writer in Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.