Work and Shoot – More Ken Patera

Striking while the iron is hot. Here’s the second part of DuhHannibal’s interview with the world’s strongest man, Kenneth Patera, still in a hotel room. Plus some bonuses. Not seen all of this, but I know there are some howlers in there.

Starting off with the exciting subject of his diet, with him holding up a beer bottle and emphasizing THAT was a big part. He went by Arnie’s rule of beef for strength, chicken and fish for looking good.

Ric Flair called Ken after his last appearance on Hannibal’s podcast and was full of praise for it (he probably wanted to be on it to flap his gums). Hannibal brings up Flair’s claims of how many women he was with, with Patera saying Wilt Chamberlain was full of s--- on how many he was with but Flair could get a blow job in a car park to a supermarket in his heyday if he wanted to. Same with Patera when he also wrestled in the Carolinas. He says he called it time at four in an afternoon, but apparently others could do double that. They did well financially too with being pretty much the only stars in town.

Mark Henry is brought up. Ken knew the guy who trained him and was alerted to him when he was young. He kinda pours scorn on his lack of Olympic success and inability to break his records, yet still getting billed as the world’s strongest man. He envies the millions he made, though, and talks about his comparative biggest paydays, including working on top against Bruno at MSG. This segues into how wrestlers today don’t need to draw because of the way the system works with TV.

A little bit of outing of Bruno chasing skirt, which surprises Hannibal. Well, if he did follow suit with Arnie…

Hannibal asks for some advice on his dead lift, which isn’t as interesting as getting to whether Rick Rude’s cock dropped off or not, so no recap of it.

Hannibal asks about Bob Backlund, who he’s not sure whether he was being worked by. Ken says Bob is a bit strange, but there’s nothing to worry about with him, but he wouldn’t want to have to fight him. They’ve been friends for 55 years. Hannibal was surprised to see him using CBD oil, but Patera uses it too via his daughter.

Ole Anderson is brought up, who even Patera would say is a bad guy. He checks if the n-word is off limits; Hannibal says he’ll bleep it, to which Ken laughs. He recalls a time where Ernie Ladd was booking the territory and Ole was jealous of him and went off on him, which sees the bleep being used a few times. He says Ernie laughed and that time was different.

On the subject of racists, Killer Karl Kox is brought up with similar comments about Ernie and his alma mater. Ken thinks it wasn’t a big deal at the time and now it’s just “liberal b-------” to get everyone fighting with each other. The bleep machine goes into overdrive as he tries to justify it and how it was used then and how it’s used now.

Hannibal has sense to change subjects to Andre the Giant, with a unfortunately-named Korean restaurant that sounds like whorehouse. Andre would always pay the massive tab, so Ken got everyone to pitch in while he went to the loo for a piss, but it was already taken care of.

Patera got Bill Kazmeier into wrestling, as short as it lasted, as well as Ted Arcidi. He feels sorry for them when they ended up in Calgary for Stu Hart to get his hands on. They were both good guys, but not made for wrestling.

A slight deviation into discussing how Patera’s maternal grandfather was named John Nord, same as Nord the Barbarian. He bemoans how Nord never kicked the drug habit he picked up in his teens, but then Curt Hennig and Rick Rude, his schoolmates, were the same. Scott Norton did the best out of them in that respect, and Patera says he has no time or use for drugs (while drinking and chewing tobacco).

Hannibal pops the question to him about whether Rude killed himself over losing his genitals after injecting himself with a Viagra-like substance and sustaining an infection that led to an amputation. Ken says that’s what he heard from Jim Neidhart (is there anyone more reliable?). Apparently Rude went mental after being told he was going to lose it “and his penis was the dearest thing to him”. Patera says not many people know about or ask about that, but it’s true to his knowledge.

Via discussion of Bruce Wilhelm, Ken talks about Crusher Blackwell, his old tag team partner. Blackwell claimed incredible strength, but not through the gym (if you saw him you’d know he couldn’t spell the word). Blackwell actually couldn’t read or write but was a sharp guy and talked Patera into how strong he was, so they got him on TV for the World’s Strongest Man competition. Turned out he was full of s--- and embarrassed himself and everyone, but it wasn’t as bad as Ivan Putski. Billy Graham did alright, though.

Patera returned to that field in the late seventies when he was out with a hip injury. He won some money for it, but he questioned why he was doing it, then laments that he was “young, dumb and full of cum”.

Bad arenas are brought up, such as the Boston Garden, but the worst one was in Springfield. The Puerto Rican fans were drunk as skunks and on pills, so would try to jump the heels going in and out. The cops were fantastic, though, and kept an eye on everyone.

He highly regrets his WWF return in the late eighties after prison and definitely coming back as a babyface. Part of his motivation was a threat from the judge that if he got into more trouble he’d go back down for another two years, so he played it safe by coming back as a good guy. Vince didn’t think it was a good idea either, but his hands were tied.

Patera wrestled Hulk Hogan so often in the AWA that all they had to do was call numbers for spots.

In prison, Ken was able to work out and eat healthily. The people who were nicest to him were the black inmates because they hated the cops, although the prison guards weren’t that warm on them either. Helped that the black kids loved wrestling too. Guess he kept the language in check around them.

Patera met Jim Hellwig at the same time he met Bill Kazmaier. He thought he was a nice guy and talked him into seeing chiropractic school through to conclusion before he tried training as a wrestler, although he obviously twisted more necks in the ring than in the office.

Forgotten star Chris Taylor is brought up, who was 370 pounds and a gargantuan who couldn’t get small guys to work out with him, so Patera helped him out.

Patera’s handler then jumps in in character and says he’ll come up and take care of Hannibal in Toronto, so Hannibal wraps it up and talks about a third part possibly. Hannibal gets one more question in about who would win in a shoot: Verne Gagne or Stu Hart? Ken thinks they did wrestle once and Stu won, but isn’t sure. He thinks the death of Owen Hart was a sad thing.

Some extras now…

Ken Patera’s views on women:

Raw footage from a local news show in Miami. Ken doesn’t approve of women in wrestling, shockingly(!). The female reporter questions the possibility of equal opportunity. Patera says there’s enough sporting stuff out there for women to do. His prompted final message for the women of Miami: stay in the kitchen and stay in the bedroom, which gets a laugh out of the guys in the background.

Ken Patera vs. Hulk Hogan

From a recording from the Spectrum, with an annoying hiss on the tape an equally annoying local ring announcer who says it’s for the World Wide Wrestling Federation championship. Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon on commentary, Hulk still in his Eye of the Tiger days. Not that Real American wasn’t an anthem, but taking that Survivor song was easy to do but so right. Bobby Heenan is getting more heat than anyone else just walking around ringside as a target. Some strength stuff to start, with Patera posing, then a reversal for Hulk to lure him in for a trip, elbowdrop and headbutt to the outside. Ken goes for support from the Brain, so Hulk bashes their heads together. Back in, it’s the test of strength, with Patera cheating to win. Bobby gives him the thumbs down from ringside, so Hogan sends a missile of spit his way, which Bobby of course sells like a champ. Hulk up, then back down again. Hulk up once again, with Hulk sitting Patera on the top rope and punching him off. Patera fires away, but gets backdropped and thrown out. Battering ram to the post, with Heenan getting run off every time he gets close to interfering.

Back in, Ken begs off, so Hulk stomps him in the guts. Ken goes low-ish too, and definitely chops the throat to set up a pair of elbows. St0mps and a try at a suplex, but Hulk reverses it. Patera rakes the eyes and gets an elbow off the second rope, but Hulk is already Hulking up without having really taken a big move to no-sell. Hulk catches a boot and gets the big boot, but of course runs Heenan’s way to get his leg caught on the legdrop attempt, then pulls the Brain up and holds onto him until Patera charges and hits his own manager, getting rolled up for the pinfall. The heels attack after the bell, but Hulk makes his own comeback. Fine match, although a weird formula for Hulk as he didn’t even get caught in the swinging neckbreaker before making his comeback. Also strange to see Hulk and Ken look comparatively similar in stature despite the height difference. In the post-match posedown, Hulk flexes his pecs to the drumbeats of Eye of the Tiger.

One more…

Ken Patera vs. Bruno Sammartino

I’m shocked by how svelte Captain Lou looks! 1977, but the Fink is in as ring announcer at this point to give me a little bit of comforting normality. Texas Death Match billing, but basically no holds barred. We’ll see how amorphous the rules are. Ken takes his time taking off the jacket and workout gear, sarcastically getting whistled at as he does. Lou’s last minute instructions basically look like hit him in the balls before he heads back. A few seconds of avoidance after the bell rings, with Ken getting the first shots in but missing a stomp off the ropes and getting tied in the ropes and kicked in the head. Out of the ropes, Patera leapfrogs over Bruno but it’s lucha living legend with a rare dropkick to the outside. Patera tries throwing a chair in but it gets ejected. Not sure how extensively Bruno wrestled as a heel but he’s proficient at mixing up some of the tactics as a babyface. Patera gets some kicks and forearms in and a stiff Irish whip into the corner, rocking the ring, but misses and elbow. Heads crack in a charge, with Bruno almost bouncing out. Bruno gets a powerslam for two, then the atomic drop is sold like having a hot poker up the backside. Patera tries for a reprieve in the ropes, then goes as low as low can go in a blatant shot. Vince: “Patera apparently reaching for the abdominals. In his effort to reach for them Patera is just out of it and cannot be held responsible for his actions here.” – I wonder what he’d say if he’d tried to stab him in the chest… “Patera noticed Bruno had a letter his pocket and tried to offer the use of his letter opener without objection.” Bruno kicks out at two on a pin attempt and dodges a punch while they fight on the mat. Patera goes to the apron and applies the full nelson from the outside, so Bruno walks him in over the top, walks up the turnbuckle and launches backwards off the turnbuckle to catch him in a pinning position for the win. Primitive match, with minimal use of the rules beyond a threatened chairshot and the low blow, but lots of heat.

Melting it down: A more interesting shoot interview, with the racial talk getting bleeped like something out of Reno 911!, and Ken not especially endearing himself to anyone at the cost of being entertaining. Good matches, though, not many guys as thoroughly and unashamedly heelish as Ken, although it was interesting to hear him admit he knew it was time to pack it in eventually.