Hi, I’m Ryan Nemeth. You might remember me as “Briley Pierce” the mouthy, know-it-all, former WWE Developmental Tag-Team Champion, or as “Grandma Dottie” the sexed-up octogenarian from @TheGoldenGals. As part of a creative installment plan for my crushing student loan payments, I’m now required to write a blog for PWMania.com. Enjoy.
“He’s Still Got It”
I recently had the good fortune of meeting professional wrestling legend Johnny “Cadillac” Nilson (aka “The Squirt”) and chewing the proverbial fat with him. As many wrestling fans fondly recall, Nilson was a staple in what is now referred to nostalgically as “The Territory Days” of professional wrestling. His legendary feuds with the likes of “Salt ‘n Pepper” Sylvester Shuster and Danny “Jack in the Box” Cartwright live on in the memory-laden halls of in-ring history. Encountering The Squirt face-to-face was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Sadly, The Squirt passed away just weeks before this piece could be published. With his widow Carla Jean’s permission I present it here now.
(Dear PWMania.com readers, I implore you: be like a sponge and soak up every last crumb of the wisdom that The Squirt expels, for the wrestling world of today no longer knows minds of such a caliber. And may his spirit finally come to rest in the Giant Wrestling Ring in the Sky.)
I meet Nilson at a quaint laundromat in a little city called Owensboro, Kentucky. Owensboro may be known primarily for having the “best barbecue” in the world, but it will always hold a place in my heart as the fateful (and dusty) town in which I met my hero.
RN: Wow. I can’t believe it’s really you!
I notice that though older and wrinkled, his boyish good looks are still somewhat intact. But, I mean, he’s definitely wrinkled. More than wrinkled. What’s the word… uh, crumpled. Crumple-ish. Crumply. He is crumply.
NILSON: Hand me that Tide.
RN: This Tide? I think it’s that lady’s.
NILSON: Well, she ain’t lookin’, is she? Now hand it over before she turns around, you f***ing mark.
I blush, enamored by The Squirt’s unique turn-of-phrase. I laugh to myself as I hand over the medium container of Tide. It’s really him!
RN: So, Mr. The Nilson, who were some of your favorite guys to work with in the ring?
NILSON: Call me The Squirt.
RN: Oh, sorry. Mr. The Squirt. As I was saying, a lot of the young guys today don’t understand what your generation had to go through to make it—
The Squirt cuts me off.
NILSON: Make it? Did you just say I “made it?” I have two-trick knees, a fake hip, a broken neck, severe spinal problems, and zero range of motion in my left arm. I can’t see sh** out of my right eye and my wife hasn’t talked to me in fourteen years except to tell me she’s sorry she ever met me. My bank account has zero dollars in it. Zero dollars. ZERO. Does that sound like “I f***ing made it” to you? Here, put this back.
The Squirt shoves the container of Tide into my chest with his one fully-functional arm. The strength in that one arm, though- wow. I really felt it! I can’t help but hear the imaginary audience in my mind start cheering “HE’S-STILL-GOT-IT!” and I see myself cheering right along with them. I have to give credit where credit is due: Johnny “Cadillac” Nilson truly does still “got it.”
NILSON: Now, what else do you wanna ask me? My favorite match? What title I won that I’m most proud of? What territory was my favorite? What divas I f–
RN: Uh, I suppose I am a bit curious about who from today’s generation do you see the most promise in, um, either in WWE, TNA, or the, um, independents?
NILSON: Excuse me? Do you think for one second that I watch any of that crap? If these kids today were smart they’d get a job and go to college. Be a doctor or something. Anything. Unless they wanna end up like me: f***ing crippled, broke and old. Oh, and the worm don’t work either.
The Squirt gestures – with his one good hand – to his manhood, or “the worm,” as he so affectionately refers to it. With all the priceless wrestling knowledge I’m accumulating, I feel almost faint.
NILSON: Are you alright, kid?
RN: I think I need to sit down for a second. Just a little star-struck, is all.
NILSON: That’s kinda like one time I was in the ring with Dax Denver in North Carolina. George Denver’s kid. This kid was on so much sh** and so f***ing nervous I thought he was gonna sh** his f***ing pants right there in the ring. I grabbed the ref and I said, “Tell that c***sucker to take a breath, loosen the f*** up, and just listen to me.” Well, he told him, and we went 83 minutes, and as soon as the match ended he crawled under the ring and puked the sh** up. I wasn’t blowed-up. Hell, it was a cardio workout for me. I use to go an hour-and-a-half every night and twice on Sunday. With a wank in-between. Hey—grab me that fabric softener.
I’m hanging on every word. I pass him the fabric softener, not a care in my mind that it’s almost certainly not his.
RN: So, who won the match?
NILSON: Are you f**ing kidding me? I don’t know who f***ing won the match! Because I’m not a mark. Because it doesn’t matter. Because it’s f***ing phony!
He rifles through his overstuffed fanny pack, looking for something. Perhaps a memento to offer me, his gracious fan? A trading card? An autograph? A photo of him locking horns with another mythical superstar from Yesteryear? An old ticket stub from one of his countless legendary matches? What is it? What could he be looking for…
NILSON: Hey, kid, you got any quarters for the dryer?
After my hero finished his two loads of laundry, we “borrowed” a laundry basket from a sleeping old woman and carried his garments out to the car. (To be fair, the woman had two laundry baskets, so it’s not like she’s totally screwed.) Watching Johnny “The Cadillac” Nilson go through his daily chores in such an environment—a laundromat, for god’s sake—emphasized something special to me, a priceless lesson, that I’ll never forget. No matter how big a superstar someone is, no matter how many legendary matches he’s had, no matter how many championships and titles and accolades he’s won, no matter how magical he may seem to his legions of fans…deep down, below the stories, the legends, the myth, the aura, and the timelessness… he’s still a human. Just like me.
And he doesn’t have any quarters for the dryer.
Or any detergent.
Or his own laundry basket.
Also, you probably have to give him a ride home.
“He’s still got it…”
In memory of Johnny “Cadillac” Nilson. May “The Squirt” rest in peace.
About Ryan: Ryan Nemeth is former WWE NXT Superstar “Briley Pierce.” He is the author of the humorous novel I Can Make-Out with Any Girl Here (available on Amazon.com) and contributing at PWMania.com. Follow him on Twitter @HotYoungBriley.
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