There are a million stories like this, I’m sure, but this one is extra special because of the lightning fast hands of the late “Gentleman” Jim Chadwick. Chadwick was short in stature. He had platinum blonde hair. And he had the perfect kind of heel moustache; if it could have talked his hairy lip itself would have said “hate me.” He was incredibly entertaining.
But in Georgetown, Kentucky people genuinely hated heels. The fans were clinging to that true-believer mentality that made professional wrestling great. And they weren’t letting go easily. Chadwick, one of several heat-seeking heels in the promotion, was making it easy for them to hang on to their detest for the “bad guys.”
On this particular evening, I was the ring announcer – neither babyface nor heel, just a neutral party. The best ring announcers are those that empathize with the fans and respond the way the audience does, keeping in mind the booker’s intent. When all cylinders are clicking with everyone – booker, wrestler, manager, ring announcer, referee, and fan – true athletic-theatrical magic happens.
I introduced Chadwick, who was managing one of several men in his stable. He had a hodgepodge of people under his tutelage and I don’t remember which one he was leading to the ring on this night. But I know he had his signature Singapore cane with him. I know he was wearing pink socks and a red outfit, the color dissonance just another part of the total hate-inducing package.
But the final component for Chadwick’s performance was his mouth. For a man with a southern drawl, he sure did have a motor mouth and a quick wit. But unlike the legendary Jim Cornette, his accent was more pronounced and his act less funny. More intense. He was more of hillbilly Paul E Dangerously than anything else.
As he walked to the ring, like all the heels in Georgetown, he stopped almost one by one in front of every fan to insult them personally. Just like he did last week. And the week before that. And they ate it up.
Except for one fan.
The babyface had made his way to the ring. The security guard had carried the ring gear to the back. Gentlemen Jim was giving hell to a section of fans as he circled the ring during the lockup. He yelled something to the guy in the back row. And he called him “Fatboy.” It wasn’t an uncommon insult, nor was it all that intense. But for some reason, in this instance, it ignited a fire in the fan.
That fan stormed towards the ring, lifted up the small rope that signified the security barrier, and charged at the manager. He swung. Jim ducked and came up with a right hook that landed squarely on the fan’s nose.
I was up on my feet and to the action instantly. I grabbed the fan by the neck and had him in a restraint. His bloody nose dripped down my arm into the sleeve of my corduroy sport coat. We walked him outside where Sin D, one of the female wrestlers and designated “cooler” for most situations like this had a conversation with him. I went back inside to watch the match, which Jim finished managing without incident. The next week, Jim made sure to include in his pre-match promo that you could now call him a “heartbreaker, record breaker. . .and nose breaker!” Even the truest of believers couldn’t help but laugh at that line.
“Gentleman” Jim Chadwick passed away a couple of years ago. But I’ll never forget the night he broke a fan’s nose.
Tags: fan attack stories, indy wrestling