I have to admit, I was a little worried about the prospect of appearing at my first ever "Gathering of the Juggalos". These "Gatherings", the brainchild of Detroit rappers The Insane Clown Posse (ICP from this point on) - an event now enjoying it's 12th birthday, had become an anual pilgrimage of excess attended by tens of thousands of maniacs, music loving gypsies, hardcore wrestling afficianados and big fans of bottle tossing. These Gatherings had become the stuff of legend among my fellow wrestlers for years, but had only recently begun to garner mainstream attention for the type of abuse, both verbal and physical hurled at those brave/dumb/trusting enough to take part in such an audacious atmosphere. Indeed, one of the rumored weapons of choice of those in attendance was that old standby - feces. I'd once been victim of a surprise chimpanzee turd-throwing incident, and did not enjoy it, and felt that an experience with human feces would be equally unpleasant - possibly moreso.
I had no interest of ever being part of that scene and was thus relieved when I had the legitimate excuse of an Impact Wrestling house show dates to ward off the couple of people who called, asking about my availability for The Gathering. But, as many of you may know, my employment status changed abruptly, and the despite my trepidation (a favorite word of Stone Cold’s –for real) I found myself accepting an offer that was fairly tough to refuse.
A few helpful twitter followers were kind enough to tweet me links of different performers dodging a deluge of debris – the type of dodging I was not sure I’d be capable of, given the status of my knees, back, love handles, etc. So, prior to embarking on my journey, I found myself in the unique position of stopping by a lacrosse warehouse on Long Island, purchasing a stick for the first time since my playing days ended 28 years ago.
“You going to play a little lax, Mick?”, one of the guys at the warehouse asked me.
“No”, I said, working in the pocket of my new purchase.
“What are you going to use it for?”, he inquired, a little surprised; after all, a lacrosse stick is usually limited in it’s number of potential uses.
“Just going to use it to catch some shit”, I said.
“Really, what kind of shit, Mick?”
“Human..human shit”, I said. “I’m going to catch human shit in it. Then I’m going to throw it back at the thrower of the shit – with greater velocity than it arrived.”
And that’s how I thought it was going to play out in the wee hours of August 13th, 2011; the Hardcore Legend - a man who had left a pretty good job at WWE (though rumor has it, I might well be returning) because he didn’t want to take verbal crap, now being forced to catch and throw literal crap back at his tormentors. Once upon a time, I had taken great offense to fans who chanted “you sold out, you sold out” at me upon my dastardly defection from ECW to WWE. Now, I was thinking of that chant, and practically leading it, every time I looked in the mirror.
A couple weeks before the event, I began to see the wrestling card shaping up. The good folks in the ICP had seen fit to offer me a spot as a color commentator, in addition to my doodie dodging duties on the comedy stage. I had to give props where it was due – these clowns (meant as a term of endearment) were putting together one of the most star-studded line-ups in history. To be sure, most of the participants were a few years (in some cases, decades) from their glory days, but nonetheless, it was a staggering line-up.
Author’s note – My nine hour flight delay is coming to an end, so for the sake of brevity, I’ll bottom line this thing.
As it turned out, I had a heck of a time! Sure it took me 13 hours to get there, and I was more than a little frustrated when the road simply ended at a river ferry that had stopped operating 10 minutes before my arrival. So, even though I could actually see Cave in Rock, Illinois about 300 yards away on the other side of the river, actually driving from Kentucky to Illinois turned out to be a two hour affair, that offered my vivid proof that the white-tailed deer is not an endangered species. Until my drive through the wilds of Northern Kentucky, I has usually associated the “deer in the headlights” phrase to the utterly clueless expression on Al Snow’s facial features before the bell rang for our “Best Friends” tag team classics.
But once I arrived – brother..eh, eh (a little Gordon Solie for you) what an amazing time I had! The backstage area was a “who’s who” of all-time wrestling greats, and a reunion for so many of the guys, many of whom had not seen each other in years, if not decades. I’d like to go back and watch the show, just to see the look of genuine shock and happiness on my face, when I saw Brickhouse Brown walk down the ramp – the first time I’d seen Brick since we were both in Texas for World Class. He was one of many guys over the years to take me under his wing…but one of the very few who can actually attest to the existence of my sexual heyday, which transpired over a 6-7 week period beginning in mid-to-late December of 1988, and ending somewhere in late-early-to-mid January/February 1989. Go ahead, ask him about the newspaper story sometime on “Brickhouse TV”.
Sure, some of the wrestling was a little slow, but the lack of constant action gave me and play-by-play man Kevin Gill to have an absolute blast on-air, a fact that was probably evident to those who stayed up way, way past their bedtime to catch the show on PPV. Perhaps next year, ICP and the organizers of the show may want to include some of the top Indy workers into the “Legends and Icons” show, giving the fans an overall better show, and a chance for the top names of tomorrow to honor the guys who paved the way by working alongside them to put on the best possible show. Taking into account that Gill and I had talked over next to nothing before the show aired, I think we did pretty darn good, and I will proudly add my Vince McMahon “I have no balls” impression into my end or career time capsule, as an example of things I’ve enjoyed the most in my 26 years in the biz. And what a thrill it was to see X-Pac, after navigating such a tough personal road over the past several years, looking like the Sean Waltman of old – a guy who I absolutely believe deserves another shot with WWE.
Maybe my comedy set wasn’t the best I’ve turned in, but factoring in the 4:30 AM set time, and my previous fears and expectations, it could have been a hell of a lot worse, too. I did get pelted - but with respect and decent laughter, instead of debris – leaving beautiful Cave in Rock, Illinois sweaty and exhausted..but without even a trace of bodily fluids..or solids on me. My sincere hope for all Juggalos is that they can come to treat every act with as much respect as they treated me, removing that public black eye that is often associated with the event. I even picked up a few hitch-hiking Juggalos at 5:45 AM, who helpfully pointed out that ferry service begins at 6 AM – thereby saving me almost two hours of non-stop swerving to avoid wildlife in the road. Did I mention that the white-tail deer is not an endangered species?
As I mentioned, there’s this rumor out there that I might be returning to WWE sometime soon, and if the rumor proves to be true, my chances of returning to this one-of-a-kind atmosphere in 2012 will be dramatically reduced. But I really enjoyed being part of it – and I would really appreciate being asked to do so again. Who knows - maybe next year, I’ll even get some offense in and not fall down when I hit the ring to help a friend in need.
Until then, I will remain, respectfully yours – Cactus Sac.