and more in John Hitchcock's
North Carolina -
The Bloody Independents, Rick Link
I would guess that at ninety percent of the independent shows I attended there was one constant. And that was the disturbing violence of a wrestler named Rick Link.
Every show Link would walk out to the ring and blood and ass kicking would immediately start happening like clockwork. And it was both his blood and his opponents splashing out on the ring every show.
Link is about six one and about four hundred pounds and his weight is half above his belt and half under. With his head shaved and hands taped, he was one scary looking guy.
The interesting thing about Link is his matches usually lasted about five minutes because of his weight but those minutes would always be riveting. Show after show, night after night, I would always look forward to his match because you really never knew what would happen.
I know you think I am the world's biggest mark for saying all this but it was the truth. Rick Link was and is a violent guy that often took his problems to the ring and settled them.
These matches were really not shoots because the other wrestlers never seem to fight back. It was just Link making a point that he was the ruler of the backroom. Hell, he helped Johnny Hunter train most of the guys he wrestled but he would always lay down a stiff match.
One night in Salisbury, NC at a place we named the Real Cow Palace because it was a stockyard tin building with hay on the floor and cow shit on the metal fence that surrounded the ring, Link wrestled a guy named the Head Hunter.
This Head Hunter guy was a jacked up body builder that was real green. He had a manager and he did a little dance for his entrance. Link wrestled this guy very cleanly until the finish. Then he knocked the guy down and jumped on his back. This took everyone by surprise because nobody could see it coming.
Then Link jumped on the Head Hunter's leg brutally dislocating it. It was one of the most gruesome things I have ever witnesses in 35 years of watching wrestling. They had to bring in an ambulance and take the poor guy to the hospital.
A powerful message was sent that night that Rick Link was the bull of the woods in this little promotion and everybody would have to show the guy a ton of respect. But that was why this was so strange. Everybody always did show Link respect because he trained most of them.
Believe it or not about two weeks later, the Head Hunter wrestled Link again and this time Link broke the guys leg. I still do not know what set Link off but I never saw that Head Hunter guy again.
One night in Greensboro, Link was going to be in a battle royal. My friend Diamond Dan Grondy who was wrestling on the card that night told me to watch Link and Robbie Allman during the match.
Allman had just been on TBS jobbing on television and was bragging about it to the guys in the backroom. And Link was going to kick his ass for talking too much. And he did. Allman entered the ring and the bell rang and he was in trouble very quickly.
Link grabbed him, hit him in the back so hard that Allman doubled over and then Link kicked him right in the face with his steel-toed boots splattering Allman's nose all over the ring.
His face was a mess and for the rest of his life and he would remember Rick Link every time he looked in a mirror. And then I began to look in the mirror because I was paying money to watch this carnage every month.
Why did Link do this stuff every time he went into the ring? Why did he have this mean streak that made him hurt so many people? Why is a good question? I suspect that Link was taught to stand up for him self in the wrestling ring the hard way. Some one must have hurt him very badly when he was a green and starting out.
That sent him a message that he had to gain the respect of all his peers by being a very ruthless man. And it was drilled into Link that you had to always protect the business at all costs.
Protecting the Business is not something that the old timers took lightly. And in this day and age it does seem so stupid to me personally.
Because what did the Business ever do for them?
Bad back, shot knees, no future job skills after wrestling, all these things you protect? A lot of wrestlers will tell you that being in front of a crowd being booed or cheered is a type of drug.
I understand that completely but chasing the dream has a high price in the small market-wrestling world. I have not seen Rick Link in about three years and I hope he is at peace with himself.
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