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New book recounts some of the best behind-the-scene stories in wrestlng history

“The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling” recounts some of the greatest stories and events that happened behind the curtain of pro wrestling.

New book recounts some of the best behind-the-scene stories in wrestlng history

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, right, faces off against Andre the Giant at a New York press conference on Feb. 3, 1988 to promote their upcoming bout on "The Main Event," an NBC prime time special to be aired Feb. 5th. (Richard Drew/AP file)
World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, right, faces off against Andre the Giant at a New York press conference on Feb. 3, 1988 to promote their upcoming bout on "The Main Event," an NBC prime time special to be aired Feb. 5th. (Richard Drew/AP file)

“The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling” recounts some of the greatest stories and events that happened behind the curtain of pro wrestling.

Some of the stories are 100 percent true and some are not, but they were interesting enough for the New York Post to ask David Shoemaker to pick his favorite legit stories and list them in an article.

Shoemaker also gave a bit of a synopsis of his some his favorites as well. Here are his picks:

Andre the Giant and his legendary alcohol intake

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Stories of Andre’s ability to consume massive amounts of alcohol have been told during numerous interviews over the years, but the one Shoemaker tells has a new twist — his alcohol intake was used to determine how much anesthesia to give him.

Vince McMahon wanted Andre to come back to the company to face Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. Andre was reluctant as his back was in pretty bad shape.

McMahon went to great lengths to ensure Andre was in good enough shape to make the show as he paid for Andre’s back surgery and allowed him to rehab at the McMahon home.

But before the doctors could perform surgery on Andre, they had no idea how much anesthesia it would take to put the big man under. So the doctor came up with a way to figure it out.

As Shoemaker tells it, “Legend has it that the anesthesiologist responsible for putting Andre under had never before had a giant for a patient and had no idea how much anesthesia to give him. He ended up asking how much booze he normally drank and used that as a guide for his dosage. ‘It usually takes two liters of vodka just to make me feel warm inside,’ Andre quipped.”

It turned out McMahon’s persistence paid off as Andre and Hogan set an indoor attendance record of more 93,000 fans at Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.

Captain Lou Albano was almost fitted with cement shoes

Before Captain Lou was a legendary wrestling manager, he was an in-ring performer himself during the early 1960s.

Albano and his partner at the time, Tony Altomare, formed a tag team named “The Sicilians,” as they portrayed themselves as Mafia tough guys that easily got under the skin of fans.

There was one problem though. The tag team wrestled in Chicago, which was home to The Outfit once headed by Al Capone.

“In 1961, three members of the Chicago Outfit — supposedly including Tony Accardo — paid The Sicilians a visit and told them to lay off because their antics were giving the mob a bad name. They must have made their point — The Sicilians left town surreptitiously, hightailing it back to the Northeast,” tells Shoemaker.

Harley Race was fed up with Vince McMahon’s expansion

Vince McMahon’s decision to take his company national during the 1980s made a lot of regional promoters upset.

One of the many reasons they were upset was that he would run a show in towns that were considered off limits, which was a no-no during the territorial days.

McMahon rapidly expanded either by buying the regional promotion’s television time or bought the promotion all together.

Whatever ones didn’t make a deal with McMahon folded up shop because of the lack of ability to keep up with McMahon.

Harley Race saw all of this and was none too happy. Race became a legend on the regional circuit and won multiple National Wrestling Alliance World Championships. He saw McMahon’s expansion as a threat to his ability to earn a living.

He soon took matters into his own hands when McMahon and the WWF came to his stomping grounds of Kansas City, Mo.

“Supposedly, Hulk Hogan was in the dressing room when a local wrestler named Harley Race stormed in. Race walked up to a seated Hogan and punched him, knocking him to the floor. When Hogan sheepishly said that he was surprised Harley wasn’t carrying a gun, Race reached into his jacket and pulled out a .38 Special. Nobody got shot, but Race made his point. Hogan later claimed that Race actually tried to burn down the WWF ring, though Race denies it. Like most other regional promoters, Race lost a lot of money when the WWF took over, and to make back the money he lost, he ended up going to work for McMahon just a couple of years after the gun incident.”

Race was usually known for settling matters with his fist, especially his legendary left hand, but he apparently decided to up the ante in this case.

To read the full story including how Killer Kowalski earned his nickname, the time WWF and Fabulous Moolah screwed over Wendy Richter, “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s over-protectiveness of Miss Elizabeth and a recounting of the murder of Bruiser Brody click HERE.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
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