Listen up, Jack! Friends tell Goldie Rogers stories
GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
|Five minutes later, the crowd on its feet, Goldie Rogers might take off his ring jacket. Photo by Bob Leonard
Listen up, Jack! That Goldie Rogers, straight out of Hollywood, California, was a strutting, showboating, fan-riling master of his craft. Old-school through and through, he was a carpenter who excelled at making others look better.
Upon learning his passing on Friday, colleagues and friends reflected back, Jack!
Phil Watson, the son of the legendary Whipper Billy Watson, was the one who trained Dave Sherwin, a young man from Cobourg, Ontario, with dreams of becoming a pro wrestling. Watson had high expectations for his charges, though, which made things difficult for Rogers.
"I used to have great matches with Goldie Rogers. He used to puke before we wrestled because I was such a perfectionist in the ring," said Watson. "If I trained you, and you went in the ring and made a mistake, I was ready to come back into the dressing room and just f---ing chew your head off or beat you up."
One of Rogers' first territories was the Pacific Northwest, where he worked for Super Star Championship Wrestling promoter Dean Silverstone.
"Goldie was only 22 or 23 years old when he started working in Washington State. He came in as a face, but after a year or so, we made a switch," said Silverstone, whose promotion was based out of Seattle. "Ronnie Roberts [Laurie Hey, brother of Freebird Dale 'Buddy' Roberts], was being interviewed one day on television when Goldie approached the announcer and Roberts with a dozen long-stemmed red roses. Goldie had never been interviewed on TV before so he was somewhat nervous, but he was able to get out his line out with only a little hesitation in his voice: 'I've been watching you wrestle, Mr. Roberts,' Goldie said to him, 'and I'd like to give you these beautiful red roses in hopes someday you and me can team up.'
"Ronnie Roberts reacted beautifully and it was instant heat from then on for Goldie Rogers. Goldie came back to the television dressing room and breathed a big sigh of relief, 'Man, that was the toughest thing I've ever had to do,' he told me.
"It was a moment that became embedded in my memory and brings smiles to my face whenever I think about that 240-pound Canadian making a pass at another Canadian on television."
Silverstone couldn't resist chiming in with another Rogers story, which perhaps speaks to Rogers' naivety in the business at a young age.
"Goldie Rogers trusted everyone. His personality resulted in an uncomfortable situation after he had the pleasure (?) of meeting Tiny Frazier," wrote Silverstone in an email. "In 1974, Tiny had a five-month campaign in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the talent there knew about him from previous territories, but Goldie Rogers had never met Tiny and knew nothing about his sense of humour. Frazier enjoyed providing unsuspecting wrestlers with a very potent ex-lax chocolate chip fudge cake. Bringing one freshly baked such item into the Seattle dressing room one night he discovered he had a taker for his delicacy in Goldie Rogers.
"The boys who knew didn't say a thing as the burly Goldie made short work of the great tasting concoction offered to him by a straight-faced Tiny who was always playing ribs on the crew.
"The next day was Yakima. Goldie wasn't booked for the TV taping at noon, but he was scheduled to be on the Wednesday night house show at the Yakima Armory. He appeared that evening, but arrived with his wrestling bag and a plastic bag stuffed with extra tissues. He didn't know what was wrong with him, but he felt woozy and claimed, 'I've got the big, big runs.' Tiny broke out in laughter as did the other boys, but Goldie refused to believe, for a while, that Tiny's 'gift' had created such an adverse reaction with his system.
"He wasn't so trusting from that point on."
In the ring, though, Rogers was easy to trust, said Stampede Wrestling booker and frequent opponent Bruce Hart.
"He was a pretty decent guy, quiet and went about his business in the ring, was pretty professional and didn't make waves. A pretty well-respected guy and all that. I remember Dynamite and all those guys, they all had high regard for him," said Bruce Hart. "He did his job in the ring, and was a prototypical jobber. He mostly did jobs out here, but he always went out of his way to get whomever he was working with over."
Hart tried to put Rogers' skill-set in a more contemporary context.
"He was like our version of maybe like a Finlay or a William Regal or a Chavo Guerrero, one of those guys that does mostly jobs but actually was good at what he did and didn't have any qualms about it, went out and took pride in being able to get the other guy over, which is something a lot of jobbers didn't seek to do," said Hart. "He was always pretty professional and was the epitome of the old term, 'a carpenter.'"
Bruce's brother, Ross, is the family historian, especially when it comes to professional wrestling.
Referee Cedric Hathaway isn't making much headway on making Goldie Rogers break his choke on a luckless opponent. Photo by Bob Leonard
"He was a great underneath hand, probably quite underrated," Ross Hart said of Rogers. "He was one of the best underneath guys to get heat. You put him on in an opening match, especially in a spot show, and he would have those fans so fired up. He could take up to five minutes just to take off his jacket, he always had a really nice robe or jacket, and his glasses after that. The babyface would apparently be going nuts. The referee would be trying to count him out. And the fans would be going ballistic. He would have that crowd going in that opening match just from that little routine, and just a constant heel during the match."
The Great Gama Singh teamed with Rogers often in Stampede. He can still picture Rogers in the ring.
"They're going to remember his walk, that little strut that he used to do that Ric Flair does. We all remember Goldie for that. Then one of his famous lines was, 'What's up, Jack?' or something like that. 'Hey, Jack!' What's going on, Jack?' 'What's up, Jack?'"
That's right, Jack, there's no talking about Goldie Rogers without talking about Jack.
"He made the 'Jack' saying more famous than any wrestler. I think he initially said it when he was pissed off," guessed Ross Hart. "He used to work with my brother, Bruce. I'm not sure what happened, he felt Bruce had stiffed him during the match or something. Goldie then tightened up and was blocking Bruce. It was a disasterous match. Then after -- Bruce is the booker too -- and Bruce confronted him in the dressing room. David Shults and quite a few others were in the dressing room too. Goldie wasn't afraid to bark back at Bruce. 'I get my receipts in, Jack!' The after that, the use of the word 'Jack' was synonymous with Goldie. He'd use it in a working sense, he would use it when he was pissed off."
When the incident with Rogers is brought up, Bruce Hart chuckled, and thinks that it took place on a native reservation.
"[The match] didn't quite seem to be going the way it should have. He was just blocking everything and everything was not quite on the right page. I was half-pissed, and I spoke to him about it afterwards, and he said, 'Just getting my receipts in, Jack!'" said Bruce Hart, conceding there might have been an accidental potato (real hit).
By airing their frustrations, Rogers and Hart cleared the air and they had many of matches against each other after.
But the receipts line stuck around, said Bruce Hart.
"Pillman was always doing his famous impersonation of Goldie Rogers -- 'Just getting my receipts in, Jack!' in Pillman's raspy voice."
Goldie Rogers Photo Gallery
July 23, 2012: Goldie Rogers, dead at 61, was Cobourg through and through
April 8, 2010: The colourful career of Goldie Rogers
June 13, 2006: Hometown honours Goldie Rogers
Previous SLAM! Wrestling obituaries
Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling. He can be emailed at email@example.com.