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Hammer Time

 - Gordon Grice

Bruiser Brody is an archetypal figure in wrestling. His name instantly conjures a face (wild, curly black hair, scarred forehead, mountain-man beard) and a figure (broad-shouldered and powerful, six-fivish but credibly billed at anything up to six-eight) and even a set of moves—a boot to the face (he was flexible enough to nail Andre the Giant without losing his cat-like balance), an effortless one-armed bodyslam (Andre was a victim of that too), even a flying dropkick. While many wrestlers bring back memories, Brody brings on a mood, something like a state of panic. I flash back to a crowd parting like the Red Sea, Brody serving as a chain-swinging Moses. Or to a young jobber with his eye moused shut and his cheek streaming blood from Brody's stiff kicks.

But all that came later, after Brody had established the persona that made him a star. History has forgotten his early days as the King of the American Hippies.

When Frank "the Hammer" Goodish arrived in Amarillo in 1975, one year into a career that would become legendary, he made an immediate impact. As he crushed prelim wrestlers on TV, he exuded incredible animal intensity. He was immediately booked into a feud with Terry Funk. Behind the scenes, Funk and Goodish were close friends from their days in West Texas State University football. In the storyline, Funk was a beloved local hero, Goodish a maniacal heel out to hurt somebody. Goodish cracked Funk's ribs with a bearhug, but Funk escaped with his International title. And with his push barely begun, Goodish was suddenly finished as a top-tier player in Amarillo. The Super Destroyer, played by booker Art Nelson, undercut Goodish's image by using the same finisher, the bearhug, and beating Funk with it for the International title. This result immediately cast Goodish in the role of secondary heel.

Nelson had been overshadowed in Mid-Atlantic by an agile young giant named Don Jardine, often known as the Spoiler but in that territory known as the Super Destroyer. His first move as booker in Amarillo was to cast himself as the Super Destroyer, in the process overshadowing another agile young giant, Frank Goodish. Perhaps Nelson saw Goodish as a threat. Perhaps the inexperienced Goodish wasn't yet good enough to work long matches against the Funks. Or perhaps the unpredictability Goodish became known for in other regions showed up here and caused him to be held back. In any event, Goodish's loss of stature seemed an injustice. He already had the aura of danger that made fans both fear him and want to see more of him.

Though he was no longer working at the very top, Goodish was not yet through with the promotion. He was shunted into a feud with Western States champ Ray Candy. At 300 pounds, Candy matched Goodish for size, but he was the underdog. The question for most fans was not whether Goodish would win, but whether Candy would get hurt in the process. Goodish soon wore the gold. In a TV rematch, Goodish once again bearhugged Candy into submission.

His next major program paired him with Scott Casey. Casey was a talented young babyface who was getting a big push. He had wrestled both Pat O'Connor and Terry Funk to draws. His matches with Goodish were David-and-Goliath affairs.  More...

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