As many of you heard by now, wrestling legend Verne Gagne passed away Monday at the age of 89.
When I lived in Marietta, I visited CNN Center in downtown Atlanta a couple of times. I was once on CNN’s “Talkback Live” asking a question or two about the Republican primaries of 1996, so maybe someone will dig that up on YouTube. Susan Rook was a good host to that show, and was just happy not having to talk about the O.J. Simpson trial anymore.
Also headquartered there at the time was World Championship Wrestling, better known as their acronym of WCW. One day I’m on one of the escalators and I see the unmistakable image of Jimmy Hart, formerly of The Gentrys but perhaps better known as a megaphone wielding manager who always wore sunglasses, unless a wrestler was beating the snot out of him.
Another time I was there, I noticed the presence of Verne Gagne and his son-in-law, Larry Zbyszko. Zbyszko, who I saw in person in Jacksonville about four years prior, was a legendary villain in the business, while Gagne (who had retired in the early 80’s) was a legendary hero. Very few knew that Larry “The Legend” had married one of Verne’s daughters.
No, I wasn’t about to expose the kayfabe on that in Atlanta that day. I was too far away from them.