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 - Jim Zordani

It's time to pay tribute to the real unsung heroes of the wrestling profession. I'm referring to the guys who would lose badly every week on the AWA's televised broadcasts. We're all familiar with the terms for these men. Preliminary wrestlers. Prelim guys. Enhancement performers. Carpenters. Job boys. Jobbers. Jabronies.

When I first began watching wrestling in 1969, I had no idea what the role of a preliminary wrestler was. I just saw these gentlemen lose matches every week. I figured these bums must really suck. Years later I discovered just how wrong I was. Simply put I learned the role of a preliminary wrestler was to make the star who beat him look like a million bucks.

The AWA had so many memorable enhancement performers from Puppy Dog Peloquin to Tom Rocky Stone to Ken K.O. Yates to Jake The Milkman Millimen to George Scrap Iron Gadaski to the Sodbuster Kenny Jay. These gentlemen were often taken for granted but their contribution to the history of the AWA should not be overlooked. It's the goal of this month's column to take a look back at the AWA's glorious jobbers.

Rather than write a paragraph on every individual prelim guy, I'm going to list of the wrestler's ring name and then give a synopsis of his career. Some profiles will be longer than others due to the amount of information available. Along the way when the situation dictates, information on how the prelim guys were contacted by the AWA promoters, how much they were paid and which enhancement performers traveled together will be provided.

Kenny Jay- Born Kenny John Benkowski on March 27th, 1937 in Holdingford, Minnesota. Became a wrestler by answering an ad in a newspaper. Trained by Joe Armstrong and Bob Hokinson. Started out as a heel in the late 1950s. Won plenty of matches in those days. Given the ring name Kenny Jay by his sister who told him your first name really is Kenny and your middle initial is J. Thus Kenny Jay was created. Worked television bouts in Minneapolis and Omaha while on leave from the Army. After completing his stint in the service, opened a landscaping business with his brother. Business specialized in sod and rocks. Hence his nickname The Sodbuster. Use wrestling on weekends to supplement his landscaping income. Most famous win during his early AWA tenure came on August 14th, 1965 when he teamed with Verne Gagne, and the Crusher to defeat Harley Race, Larry Hennig and Chris Markoff. Won a battle of the losers feud with Kenny K.O. Yates in the early 70s. Formed a great enhancement tag team with George Scrap Iron Gadaski. Gadaski and Jay almost always lost but always gave a great accounting of themselves in the ring and most importantly made their opponents look good. Gadaski and Jay did score a few shocking victories including one over Baron Von Raschke and Horst Hoffman where Jay pinned Hoffman in the second fall and the Germans were DQ'ed in the third fall.   More...

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