|MY 'OL FRIEND, JAMES|
Having my first match in 1974, I am also very proud of probably being the second to last graduate of the “old school” tradition. I spent my early years in the gulf coast “indies”, but back then they were called “outlaw” territories.
My first “real” territory was in 1978, it was composed of the entire State of Mississippi, and called International Championship Wrestling. The company was owned and operated by George Culkin (Curtis), and his son Gil. Frankie “The Great Mephisto” Cain was the booker, and he was the man who named me Percy Pringle.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw James Harris. James, as many of you know, eventually evolved into Kimala “The Ugandan Giant”. It was just like yesterday, the city was Cleveland, Mississippi. I just happened to look out the dressing room window, and saw a giant of a man crossing the rock covered parking lot, carrying one of those old cardboard blue suitcases. I told the boys, “Check this guy out. I wonder who will be the lucky one to work with him tonight?”
By the way, the reason I distinctly remember it being a rock covered parking lot, was the fact that the fans would fill their pockets up, and half of the lot usually ended up flying through the air into the ring at us.
It took a bit of work on Mephisto’s part, but James learned the ropes pretty quick and was given the name of Sugar Bear Harris. “Sugar Bear” got over fairly well, and learned quickly, but then he was drafted into my stable of grapplers. I immediately changed his name to “Ugly Bear” Harris. However, I began to discover that he was getting more heat at home than in the arenas.
You see, I treated poor “Ugly Bear” pretty badly. If he lost a television match, I sometimes made him bend over and I would plant foot on his backside. One time I even got carried away and slapped his face. The next night, James showed up in the dressing room and asked me if we could talk in private. “Percy…” he began, “I just don’t know how much more I can take.” I asked him to explain, “You see, I knows what we do ain’t for real, but my wife don’t. Every time you do something bad to me on TV, when I gets home, she be waiting on me on the front porch with a shot gun.”
Now keep in mind, this was the mid-70’s in rural Mississippi. James continued, “Last night, after she saw you slap my face. She chased me across the street into the lumberyard, and Percy I had to stay out there all damn night! Please lets try something different this week, so we can keep her and her friends happy.”
So, I eased up on ‘ol “Ugly Bear” for a while, but then came the night of the big TV Battle Royal. The winner would receive $5000! Mephisto made the decision to put James over. But James knew what would be waiting on him when he got home.
As he pulled into his muddy driveway, there she was, with all her friends. It was party time, hell after all; her husband had just won $5000, by beating up 12 men. “”Let me see it James.” Ugly Bear’s wife commanded, “The $5000 you won on TV, I want to see it!” Stuttering like Mel Tillis, James tried to tell her he didn’t get any money. Well boys… it was back across the street to the lumberyard, to spend another cold wet night! Needless to say, the next morning, I believe Mr. James Harris finally decided it was time for Mrs. James Harris to get smartened up, if you will.
James and I are still friends to this very day. He’s a great guy and because of stories like this, we share a very special bond that nobody can ever take away from us.
Join me next time right here in STORY TIME, for the continuing saga of Percy Pringle III, also known as The WWF character Paul Bearer.