YouShoot: Tony Atlas
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
I overlooked the “Intended for Mature Audiences” label prominent on the DVD cover before watching… and yeah, that’s a definite warning. I should have remembered some of the rumors, myths and fetishes of Mr. USA, but those were definitely put on the screen on the first segment.
Leave it to Kayfabe Commentaries to run with an avenue that moves beyond the basics of the business and into other subcultures!
What is amazing about this DVD, however, are the reactions of Tony Atlas to the usual array of goofs, vulgarity and shocking moments of the YouShoot variety.
That ad on this very web site, with Tony’s facial expression, is definitely priceless!
This sort of unexpected combination of outlandishness and naïve response is very surprisiong, but presents the personality of Tony Atlas in a picture. How a guy who readily discusses his foot fetish and a variety of angles on sex not readily discussed in mixed company, then reacts with astonishment to an obviously overwhelmingly vulgar display of pornography is … well, it’s nothing less than jarring, nothing less than peculiar.
The talking about sex was awkward in its own way, in part because Tony Atlas has his own peculiarities and expresses them matter-of-factly. What’s weird is that the images shown to Tony really took him aback, and thus were even more vulgar than his own discussions.
Atlas is also amazing in his condemnation of his peers, and not the ring rats, in what they did. He’s also vastly informative about his ‘facewalking’ peccadillo, which was tested by a vast array of images, challenging Mr. Atlas on his attraction to wrestling personalities.
Unfortunately for Tony, too many of the ladies were wearing spiked heels, which are far from conducive to his line of enjoyment.
By the way, Tony Atlas talking about foot fetishes brings up names like Ferdinand Marcos (who’s wife had an infamous assemblage of shoes, when they ruled The Philippines), and also Dick Morris, the infamous political consultant once intimately associated with former President Bill Clinton.
That’s a lot of international political firepower associated with the feet, and exposes Tony Atlas as a man more worldly for his sexual preferences than his wrestling fame.
Allow me to stop before I offend that subgroup of professional wrestling fans.
As discussions develop, Tony Atlas comes across as a very wise individual in terms of wrestling and its history, in terms of race and ramifications, in terms of talking about life and so many of his experiences in the ring and out of it.
He trots out the history of the term ‘redneck’ and a few origins of the term, and suddenly I’m realizing that Tony Atlas has more than just a few interesting areas of expertise. His understanding of racial issues are enlightening, and while I tend to question his belief in the industry as not being all that concerned with the matter of race, he has compelling logic and he headlined and he knew the inside of the sport of his era beyond my ability to learn it.
Certainly, making money in this business tends to care little of skin color, and this is an industry that broke a lot of ground, but the stories of a lot of people from a lot of regions tends to color this question a lot differently than Tony Atlas presents, which is a definite point of interest for the viewer to debate.
Strangely, Atlas has no issue with Dick Murdoch and the rumors of him being in the KKK, and had more issues in wrestling with guys of his own race, who always had the belief that there were only so many slots for the wrestlers, and were always trying to make sure that they held that position.
(I never knew Tony Atlas/Rocky Johnson only teamed together three times when they held the WWF (might be missing a W there) Tag Team Titles, but there was heat back then, which seems to have been settled.)
There’s much more about race, but a pro wrestling site is hardly the forum to discuss such things, especially those of a more worldly discussion. But it is in there, and it is fascinating, and considering Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday, it is very appropriate to mention.
Atlas avoids some of his early career, but definitely is of the Old School mentality in many ways, and that aspect I appreciated greatly. He explains the business as I understand it, talks about wrestling being a place where people can be themselves more than any other sport, and how wrestling works best when the talent is allowed to do their own thing.
Which, of course, is completely alien to the modern approach of the business.
Atlas is quite open about drug use – his and others. The stories are there – his battles with a protective SD Jones, his inability to cope with drugs, and the politics of his peers. Apparently Tony Atlas was someone who never had to buy drugs, they were freely given to him. But the point of providing drugs to him was to derail him, because once he got high, he tended to miss bookings and he got himself in trouble.
There has always been an undercurrent of speculation (and more) that Tony Atlas was destined for greatness, was either promised or likely to have received the spot that went to Hulk Hogan.
(Which makes that picture of Atlas bodyslamming Hogan, situated behind Sean Oliver and Tony Atlas, all the more poignant. That, plus the balding head of the Hulkster staring at me throughout the vifewing of the DVD was pretty amusing.)
Tony pretty much confirms how badly he messed up his career, explaining that Vince himself spoke to him at the time Hogan got the belt, and told him that every time he saw Hogan, he should be reminded that it “should have, could have, would have” been him.
And yet, here’s Tony Atlas, being Tony Atlas, no consumed with probably the biggest missed opportunity in professional wrestling history.
Controversy is no stranger to Atlas, and it’s interesting that his approach to business is pretty much all about doing things for the dollar. He deflects his Saba Simba character as like being a construction worker and disagreeing with the color of the paint he is to apply. A bit oversimplistic for my tastes, but that’s Tony Atlas, and he’s not exactly holding back on his opinions, and his honesty seems less a work and more from the heart than all but a few YouShoot interviewees.
This sort of approach is which is what apparently lead him to a confrontation with CM Punk a few years back.
Atlas was in Ohio Valley Wrestling to talk about respect, and he was tipped off about ‘the guy with the tape’, and laid into CM Punk because Punk was talking when he should have been listening. Punk took exception to how some of the Old School rules didn’t work anymore, and there was a standoff.
What’s amusing is that Tony’s wife noted that only Tony could pick the wrong person for the kind of examples he wanted to set.
The confrontation was made worse because Punk was ECW Champion, and couldn’t back down from a very public challenge. And yet, of all the roster, Punk has always shown respect, and of course, in terms of drugs, there’s no other guy on the roster that should be the example that Punk is.
But all is water under the bridge, and it’s hard to imagine Tony Atlas holding grudges…. Though he does.
There’s a few names Atlas responds to, but very few. He has his eye on staying in the good graces of the McMahons to the point of putting over both Shane and Vince for their toughness, and avoids anything bad about the family.
One of the exceptions is Jose Gonzales, who is on that list for probably all the industry, because of the death of Bruiser Brody. By the way, Atlas said there was never a phone call that caused him to miss the trial, he was just never told until it was over.
And his description of the locker room after the incident is shocking.
Tony is pitching his book, through Crowbar Press, called Atlas: Too Much, Too Soon, written with Scott Teal, and available at www.crowbarpress.com
Shocking, informative, interesting, controversial and revealing: YouShoot with Tony Atlas is a strong DVD in the series by Kayfabe Commentaries. While the crazies and the overdone inserts are more distraction than enhancement, Sean Oliver and company continue to set the standards for uncensored discussions about professional wrestling and its history.
Strangely enough, there were more instances of Oliver pulling Tony Atlas back into the professional wrestling world than any other interviewee.