View Full Version : "Cowboy" Bill Watts (article)

2/22/2006, 08:40 AM
So who would have won straight up tussle between Danny Hodge, Port Robertson, and Bill Watts in their prime?


Wrestling his past
By JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer

Former pro wrestler and Sooner athlete 'Cowboy' Bill Watts shares his sordid story to steer others straight
BIXBY -- Let's go straight to the gory details.

"Cowboy" Bill Watts once kicked a guy in the mouth during a Dallas street fight and ruined a new pair of alligator shoes. After the fight, teeth were still attached to one of the shoes. It was your basic man-bites-alligator story and it ended with Watts wearing shower slippers to an OU-Texas football game the next day.

Watts once had to shock and awe his way out of an us-against-the-world predicament in a San Diego bar. Someone lost an eye. It wasn't an accident.

Watts may be among the few folks on the planet who can call Mike Tyson a copycat. During the alligator shoes rumble, Watts chewed off a brawler's ear. He missed his target.

"I was going to bite his jugular vein out," Watts said. "I was going to kill the SOB. We were fighting for our lives."

Watts didn't lose his life that night, but he lost his date.

"She was so beautiful," he said. "I come out of this deal and I showed her that ear and she puked and I never saw her again. I was showing it to everybody and drinking and finally I just ate it. That was one

of those legendary things."

Speaking of legendary things, meet Watts. A former football player and wrestler at OU, the 66-year-old Watts is one of the biggest superstars in the Atlas-physiqued history of pro wrestling. He rose to fame first as a cowboy-themed wrestler and then as a promoter and company head, making just shy of $2 million per year when Mid-South Wrestling reigned supreme.

Compadres like Ernie Ladd, a former wrestler, and Jim Ross, Watts' longtime right-hand man, will tell you Watts had a brilliant wrestling mind and was capable of transmuting ideas to gold. They can also tell stories to substantiate Watts' candidacy for the Hellraiser's Hall of Fame.

But, like a wrestler whose character role changed from heel to babyface (that's shop talk for bad guys and good guys), Watts switched sides. He is a Christian and, brawl-free for seven years, has determined that the pen is mightier than the flying drop kick.

Honesty in memoirs

Watts co-wrote an autobiography called "The Cowboy and the Cross" that is due at book stores. He said he was asked many times in the past to write a book. He relented because he hopes the tale of his transformation might change someone else's life for the better.

"To me, my career in wrestling, I am very proud of that because it was an exciting time," he said during an interview at his home in Bixby, where he has lived off and on since 1970.

"But where I am in life now, looking back on my life, I want everybody to understand we all make choices and our choices have consequences.

"So if I painted a picture of my life and all the profanity and the anger and the brutality of a lot of my life and show how those choices, although they got me short-term gains often at the time of what I wanted, they were not (good) long-term choices."

Debate all you want about whether pro wrestlers pull punches. But Watts doesn't pull punches as an author. He spills behind-the-scenes info regarding substance abuse (including monkey hormones), tricks of the trade and aliases. A taste? According to the book, Chief Jay Strongbow was actually an Italian.

Watts said no book like this has ever been written, at least not by anybody who was once the nation's third-largest wrestling promoter. He reveals plenty about himself, too. He said most guys who write autobiographies tend to make themselves look pretty good. But he wrote about his dark side, including family warts, because he's far from holier than thou.

"Whatever I did, I always excelled," he said, laughing. "I am a man of passion, so if I got into something, I threw my whole self into it. If that is sinning or corruption or whatever, then I am going to be the best. That's the drive. Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser. I didn't like being a loser, so whatever I did, I did wholeheartedly."

Oh, the punches he's thrown

Combat was among Watts' addictions. Ross hinted Watts was the Will Rogers of fisticuffs. Watts never met a fight he didn't like.

Said Ross, "If a fan jumped in the ring and forgot about it being show biz -- the product was so convincing that the fans' disbelief was suspended -- and sometimes they would cross over the rail and get in the ring.

"And, man, if they did, I just cringed because I knew their teeth were going to drop on the floor like Chiclets. Cowboy was going to use that big right hand and he was going to nail them and they were fair game and he had a mean streak."

Watts said he was in countless brawls and described some as unbelievable.

"When I look back now, I realize that the only reason I am not dead is God wasn't through with me," he said.

"He had a plan for me and a mission for me, whether this book is part of it or not, because otherwise I should have been dead. I have been shot at point blank when a guy was shooting at me and I was breaking a wine bottle to cut his throat. But he was so scared he couldn't even hit me as close as you are to me. I have thrown rocks at guys shooting at me in car fights. Just crazy, crazy things, where I thought I was just invincible."

But Watts said he was never tough.

"I am afraid of being hurt and I have a mechanism in me that was put in me as a young child to overcome pain and fear," he said. "It is called my temper. If I can trigger it, I go to Never Never Land. But I am a very tactical Never Never Land. I may seem out of control to you, but I am very tactical and I feel no pain and I have no heart except to tear your *** apart."

Watts feels badly when a curse word pops up in conversation. But when he talks about fighting, the old vocabulary surfaces. "I'm a human," he said. "We are going to fall."

"I would think that his daily battle with his demons is ongoing," Ross said. "That would be my thinking because he just has that personality. He's one of those guys that for many years didn't turn the other cheek, unless he turned it with the back of his hand -- your cheek, that is."

He saw the light

Watts is thankful he didn't fall far enough to break the "thou shalt not kill" commandment. There were opportunities.

Watts once decided to kill a man he believed was endangering his family. He put a gun in the person's mouth and the only reason he didn't pull the trigger was because a housekeeper, on her day off, unexpectedly pulled in the driveway with a carload of kids.

"At that point in my life, I didn't understand the event from a spiritual aspect," Watts said.

"But after God shook my tree and yanked me back to him, I saw (the housekeeper) a couple of years ago in a store and I went up to her and hugged her and I said 'I finally realized why you showed up that day, that God didn't want me to kill that guy.' She said, 'Oh Bill, I realized it after it happened. I'm so glad you know now.' "

Religion, which Watts embraced in 1984, and introspection were among reasons he got out of the pro wrestling business, not too mention an oil-based economy that went bust.

Watts now calls pro wrestling corrupt, immoral, unethical and dysfunctional.

"Tell me any way they don't degrade women," he said. "Tell me how they don't promote drugs. Can you look at the guys on there and tell which ones are 'roided to the max?"


Watts also believes modern-day pro wrestling is cartoonish in comparison with the physical brand of wrestling championed by his stable of talent. Don't tell Watts it's not physical because he can reel off names of peers who died on the job.

Watts writes about his faith and his career on his Web site, www.CowboyBillWatts.com. The book will allow him to reach a bigger audience. He hopes the book will permit him to give something back "and it's got to be bigger than me."

"I realize that without Christ in my life, then I don't think there is any redeeming value in me. I just don't," he said.

"I am not here to preach. I am here to say here's my life and if you ever want to look at a train wreck in life and see the consequences of that, yes, you are going to see a lot of fame and fortune. But if you want to see the consequences of broken marriage and children who have been dramatically affected emotionally, here is my life and here is a choice I made and here are the consequences."

Ross believes Watts wouldn't be around today if Watts hadn't changed, especially since the pro wrestling business falls just this side of "The Sopranos." Ross also believes Watts might not be around today if he lived in a town like Los Angeles, where traffic snarls often lead to road rage, instead of Bixby.

"He would have been the baddest dude on the highway," Ross said. "Road rage was built for Cowboy Bill." Now Watts believes he is on the road to salvation. He likes the ride.


Jimmie Tramel 581-8389
[email protected]

2/22/2006, 08:51 AM
Bill Watts is the man . . . Mid South wrasslin' was a must watch when I was a kid.

2/22/2006, 10:01 PM
Bill Watts is the man . . . Mid South wrasslin' was a must watch when I was a kid.
Hells yeah!

2/23/2006, 10:21 AM
Danny Hodge