By Shaun “Genghis” Kangas
Last week Saturday , June 18th, I drove 2 hours and 45 minutes from Lake Mills, WI to Oak Lawn, IL .When I heard that Svengoolie and Pro-Wrestling legends Bret Hart and Mick Foley were all gonna be at the same Pro-wrestling event, I had to go! I want to publicly say who ever hooked up Pro-wrestling event with a Svengoolie appearance is a GENIUS!
I have been a wrestling fan for years, since I was five. Later on in life, after my days of playing in my band, I got involved with wrestling promotion. I did it for 2 1/2 years helping the NAWF and NWA Wisconsin wrestling promotions in Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford areas. I have been a Svengoolie fan for years, also since age five. Not a week goes by when I don’t watch his show, even if it is a replay, I don’t care, I love horror films….and Svengoolie!
It was an adventure for my girlfriend Idella and I, since I-90 was all under construction……it is summer after all, but once we got closer there was just limited construction! Using our trusty Garmin with the excellent British women’s voice guiding our way we found the Oak Lawn Pavillion quite easy.
The place is a huge sports complex where the community can go to work out, play basketball, and play indoor vollyball leagues, …but this weekend they are holding Dream Night X !! ( I should clear up that X means 10 here, ten years of PCW’s wrestling showcase in the Chicago area).
PCW has a loyal audience, and when I mean loyal, I mean 1000 to 1500 people packed in to the core! It is a rock concert atmosphere and the crowd is “live” tonight for sure. Idella and I were directed by a PCW polo shirted man to the entrance where he said, “If you want to get in line for Bret Hart you better get in line now, he is only signing for 2 hours.” I looked at this line, and seriously… 3/4 of this crowd is in line to meet WWE Legends Bret Hart and Mick Foley. The line is like seeing Santa Claus at the mall the day before Christmas! AS IT SHOULD BE! It is really rare to get a chance to meet these wrestlers.
So Idella and I make our way to find seats, which was easy since …3/4 of the crowd is in line to meet two WWE legends! PCW fans are all ages and it is a great turn out I must say. This is when we had our “Ya know you’re from Wisconsin “moment, I went up to the concession stand and ask where the beer stand was, the woman behind the counter looked at me funny and said, ” I’m sorry we can’t serve beer or any alcohol here. PCW is a family event.” This is the first Indy Wrestling show I have been to in my life that didn’t serve beer! I return to Idella and told her there was no beer stand, to have her respond in shock, ” What?!!! There is no beer stand! Every show we go to has beer! ….ohhh… oh-no.” So we spotted the table where Svengoolie would be signing, which stated he would start signing at 6pm, so we found seats close by.
Prior to the event I e-mailed ten short questions to Svengoolie( Rich Koz) to let some of his new National fans out there know now that he is a big wrestling fan! Here is that short interview:
SHAUN: What was your first wrestling event?
SVENGOOLIE: My first wrestling event would have been an AWA card at the old International Amphitheater in Chicago-with Mad Dog Vachon taking on the champ, Verne Gagne!
SHAUN: Who is your Favorite Wrestler?
SVENGOOLIE: Stone Cold Steve Austin-one of a kind.
SHAUN: What is your Favorite Wrestling Move or Finishing Move
SVENGOOLIE: The figure four leg lock.
SHAUN: What horror movies have wrestling in them?
SVENGOOLIE: I think mostly Santo movies- but “Ready to Rumble” qualifies as “horror”…
SHAUN: If you were a wrestler, what would your name be?
SVENGOOLIE: One of my (Ahem) creative friends used to call me “Stone Koz” – I think I should be the Human Sleeper Hold, since some of the movies I’ve shown have definitely put people to sleep…
SHAUN: What would your entrance music be coming down the ramp to meet your opponent?
SVENGOOLIE: The Sven Theme, possibly in a slightly different arrangement….
SHAUN: How Many WWE events have you been to over the years?
SVENGOOLIE: Wow- hard to count-been going to various events- house shows and Pay-Per-Views- since they were coming to town at the UIC Pavilion. It’s got to be numbered in the dozens.
SHAUN: What is your Favorite Match of All-Time?…I know, that is a hard one….
SVENGOOLIE: I like different matches for different reasons- Steamboat/ Macho Man, Undertaker/ Shaun Michaels, Rock/ Austin…sometimes it’s the athleticism, sometimes it’s the story….
SHAUN: Your friends with Jerry Lawler, is there any other wrestlers you are friends with?
SVENGOOLIE: Does ring announcer Justin Roberts count? Honky Tonk Man is a Sven friend, and several are acquaintances…hoping to add Mick Foley!!
SHAUN: Are you nervous ring announcing the main event tonight? You sing every episode of your show; will you be honoring us tonight by singing our National Anthem?
SVENGOOLIE: I’m just nervous about getting the names right, and doing a good job. I WILL NOT sing the national anthem….or even the Berwyn anthem.
SHAUN: I want to say thanks to Svengoolie for answering these questions! He had a super busy schedule this past week with the TV Museum of Broadcasting event, and well….the guy has a job and he is a hard worker. He took the time for this Super fan, and I think that is awesome. Now back to the event….
By 6pm they announced the event would be starting via a very LOUD P.A. system! To tell the truth, I could not make out anything they said all night. A young woman sang the national anthem and, right after she finished, the matches began. At this time I saw Svengoolie make it to his small signing table in a dark corner of the pavilion.
At 6:30, Idella and I got in line. What was funny was everyone is in a line to meet someone and there is wrestling going on, so everyone is in line watching the match, and then they realize the line has moved! This, unfortunately, made all the lines even longer.
By the time I got up to Svengoolie, only ten minutes had past. This line was moving! I paid $10 to get my picture taken with Sven and approached the table to give him a good hardy hand shake. At this time I personally thanked him for the interview and we had a nice discussion as he signed a free autograph for me. I did the classic wrestling pose for the picture, and Svengoolie did his classic pose. It was weird that we didn’t say anything and just looked at the camera and did these poses at the same time and then went back to talking. I thanked him and let the next fans go.
What I thought was the back of the line had grown to the same amount of fans when I got in line. 200-300 fans met with Svengoolie from 6pm-7:15pm, and then Sven ran to a door where Mick Foley was watching the action from backstage. That is when all the fans in this area noticed and began wildly taking pictures! Idella and I made our way to our seats and watched the wrestling matches while all of this was going on. We watched 5 matches in one hour and had four sodas between the both of us. I have to say that the PCW fans know who to cheer for and have their favorites, which is great, most indie promotions struggle to get a following.
A short intermission was announced to set up the cage for the cage matches. PCW promoted there would be a six-man cage match as the main event, and Svengoolie would be announcing that event, so we moved closer to the ring. This is where things changed. There was to only be one cage match, but Svengoolie would still be announcing the main event. They started the cage match after a 30 minute intermission. The cage match was now four tag teams battling each other, it was complete mayhem. Highlights included: wrestlers thrown into the cage, a no parking sign was used over a man’s head, a man’s face was rubbed into the fence, and a strange array of weapons were used! Great entertainment for the kids!
After the cage match winners were announced, they took down the cage, which took about twenty minutes. At this point, it has been 3 plus hours in a place that doesn’t have ceiling fans, floor fans, or even a door open. It smelled GREAT! It must be noted that after awhile my date and I can smell the man sitting next to us in the hot humid pavilion. With a 1000 plus people, could someone turn on a fan! Open a door?… Anything?!?!?!
It was at this time that Mick Foley came out . Mick greeted the audience, and went into stories of wresting in the Chicago area. He then introduced Bret “The Hitman” Hart out to the ring, where both talked about being the General Managers of WWE RAW, and the years of coming to wrestle for the fans in the Chicago area. I never thought in a million years I would be ten feet away from Bret Hart and Mick Foley in the ring, but it happened that night! As I watched these two legends converse over old matches, who do I spot in the rafters watching? SVENGOOLIE! He is there above the ring glued to these two legends like everyone in that arena that night – the true wrestling fan that he is. The WWE legends left the ring and a quick tag team match for the PCW tag championships took place.
After that, Svengoolie was brought out to his signature music. He entered the ring, greeted everyone, thanked them for coming out and talked about just recently reaching 32 years of Svengoolie. He got a huge “pop”- a term used in the wrestling business for a quick reaction from the crowd, when he brought up the 32 years of being Sven. He then announced the rules for the main event, and introduced all six wrestlers. The match was a six man tornado elimination match, with the last two going into a last man standing match for the PCW Championship. Got that? If you are not a wrestling fan that sounded crazy didn’t it? Well, I was lost on the rules too, I mean completely lost. Right after all the wrestlers came out, Svengoolie exited the ring, sat ring side, and the match began to total craziness as six men started fighting.
Svengoolie raised the hand of the winner after one of the craziest matches I’d ever witnessed. Soon we were on our way out into the hot summer night (fresh air), and back on our road trip to Wisconsin. It truly was a dream night! I never thought I would get to see Svengoolie with some Wrestling Legends, but here is my cheesy line…..Dreams do come true!
Looking back while writing this, I totally believe this was one of the highlights of my summer!!! I really appreciate TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES for allowing me to cover this event for their site, the PCW for holding the event itself, but most of all Svengoolie for the interview and his kind words! I wouldn’t be surprised that in the near future you see Svengooile in one of those quick camera shots where celebrities are at WWE RAW sitting ringside.
For TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES, I’m Shaun “Genghis” Kangas….