A few more stories with Ronnie Garvin
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
Nagging injuries are just part of the life as a pro wrestler. But gone
untreated, years later things can get serious.
Ronnie Garvin hurt his shoulder back in the 1970s. "I never fixed it. I
was in a sling for two weeks and went right back wrestling," Garvin told
SLAM! Wrestling. He hurt the same shoulder in the 1980s and took 10 days
off and was right back at it.
In 1990, Garvin stopped wrestling full-time and took up flying. Five
years later, the shoulder started bothering him again. "I couldn't sleep
on my side. I got to where I couldn't lift anything above my head," he
said. The problem continued to deteriorate until he couldn't even
scratch his head.
Finally, he went to see a sports medicine doctor about his shoulder. It
was a torn rotorcuff. The doctor pulled the muscles in Garvin's
shoulder. "Twenty years ago I'd be a cripple," Garvin believes. "It's
amazing what they can do today." After much therapy, Garvin was actually
back helping out in the cockpit two weeks after the December 1998
operation. And in August 1999, he was back in the ring in Montreal,
teaming with Jimmy Garvin and Michel 'Le Justice' Dubois
Jr. & Raymond Rougeau
, and their father Jacques Sr
The nagging nature of Garvin's shoulder problem is of a very different
nature from what he considers his biggest scare ever while wrestling.
In the early 1980s, he was wrestling Randy 'Macho Man' Savage in
Frankfurt, Kentucky. "I got backdropped on the concrete floor. I went to
piledrive him, and he reversed it on me, and he backdropped me," Garvin
explained. "When my back hit the floor, it was like an electric shock,
like 10,000 volts went from the top of my head to my butt. That's was
what it felt like. But there was actually no pain. It was like a big
shock, and no pain. And I was laying there, and I couldn't move. Panic
He was counted out, and Savage won the match. Garvin, still stuck on the
floor, starting cussing prompting a police officer to threaten to arrest
him for his language.
Eventually, help came to get him. Garvin was put on a board, and into a
van and taken to the hospital. There, x-rays were taken but there wasn't
a doctor who could read the x-rays in at that time of the night. He
stayed in the hospital overnight. "I couldn't feel my legs, but I had no
In the morning, a doctor explained that it was a shock to his spinal
cord, a very rare event because the impact has to be just right. Garvin
had indeed hit the floor just 'perfect' and received an electric shock
down his back. "The doctor told me I'd have a whole lot of pain, but
that's what you want," Garvin said. He went home and after about a day,
the feeling started coming back to him and massive, massive pain.
Ten days later, he was wrestling again, his legs and butt having gone
from deep blue almost back to their normal colour. "If I would have had
a contract back then, I could have played that one six months, at
least," he laughed.
The contracts are only one part of how wrestling has changed today for
Garvin. The dressing rooms are another change.
Back when he started in 1962, you could walk into a dressing room "and
they'd all look different. Today, they all look alike."
"I'll give you an example. You'd have Hans Schmidt
sitting in the
corner. Then you had [Killer] Kowalski
. Then you've got Yukon Eric
you've got Bull Curry. Jesus Christ! The Mafia!" Garvin laughed before
"When I first got to Boston, I didn't open my mouth. They all looked
like a bunch of f****** killers! They did! ... Cauliflower ears that
looked like doorknobs! You just kept your head down and never said a
The key was to fight back in the ring. "You fought back, and they liked
it. I remember my nose bleeding every night. They used to forearm right
across the face ... if you didn't quit after four, five months of that
s***, they respected you."
Garvin doesn't follow today's wrestling scene, though his son is now a
fan, and they recently went to a WWF show together in Charlotte, N.C.
"I don't mind wrestling today. Vince McMahon, to me, is a genius," he
said. WCW is the opposite. Garvin firmly believes that if the people at
WCW today were running the WWF, they'd be losing money there too. To
him, the only reason the money-losing WCW is still around is because Ted
Turner likes wrestling, and it fills valuable time on the his TV
stations and gets decent ratings.
It's only a couple of times a year now that Garvin dons the tights, but
each time he says it's the same experience. "As soon as I get there, I
say what am I doing here?" he said, adding that the "change in scenery"
is one of the benefits of wrestling here and there. "I don't have it any
And anyone who saw his end of December match with Jimmy Garvin against
Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in Montreal knows that, while he can still
get a crowd riled, it isn't the same old Ronnie Garvin in the ring
"I don't want to take a chance of getting hurt. You don't heal as fast.
When you're 30 days old, you heal in a few days. Now, it's six months,
sometimes a year."
After 37 years in pro wrestling, Garvin doesn't regret a thing. "I'd do
it all over again. Life is an experience. It's great. The main thing is
being healthy. If you're healthy, man, the sky's the limit."