Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Ashley Parrish
If you have seen the movie Beyond the Mat, you may recall the conversation between Terry Funk and Dennis Stamp outside the Amarillo Sports Arena prior to Terry’s retirement match with Brett Hart. Terry finally convinced Dennis to serve as the special referee for the match. As I watched the exchange, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Stamp. Most people probably remember him only from his days as jobber in the late 80's in the AWA. Actually, he was quite talented and great as a heel in Amarillo in the mid-70's.
Prior to coming to Amarillo, Stamp worked in Florida and Louisiana. I believe he began his career in the early 70's. When he first came on the scene in Amarillo, I had never heard of him. However, he was quickly elevated into feuds with the top faces in the region. He also formed a tag team with Dangerous Davey O’Hannon. Stamp and O’Hannon would go on to capture the Western States Tag Team Titles in 1976. Additionally, Stamp held the Brass Knuckles title for a good part of the 1976.
Stamp was excellent at advancing his heel persona. One of my favorite moments from the old Amarillo TV tapings took place in a match between Stamp and a curtain jerker named Wayne Hammer. Hammer was a young wrestler with a fairly decent physique. He was obviously just getting started in the business and would routinely get pummeled by the veterans. I never saw him draw a match much less win one. Stamp and Hammer went at it on TV and needless to say it was a complete squash. Stamp completely destroyed him. After about five minutes of total domination, Stamp caught him with his finisher, the reverse neck breaker. As Hammer convulsed on the canvas, Stamp covered him. I can still hear Steve Stack’s commentary: " All right, this one is over with...1 .. 2... Hey, wait a minute what is Stamp doing?!" Of course , Stamp had raised Hammer’s head by the hair to interrupt the count. Stamp gave him a second reverse neck breaker. Stack: "Well, this should do it...1...2..Oh come on!!" Stamp had interrupted the count again. Stamp repeated the move three more times, with Stack almost becoming hysterical in his pleas for someone to stop the slaughter.
Stamp finally pinned Hammer after the sixth neckbreaker. Stack waxed on urgently: "You know this looks serious. I’m afraid Wayne Hammer has been seriously injured." Hammer laid motionless on the canvas as Stamps hand was raised in victory. Stamp glanced at his defeated opponent and his leering sneer vanished. In fact, I would almost swear he turned white. Stamp began talking to the referee and the referee’s second who had entered the ring to assist the still supine Hammer. Stamp looked bewildered. It was as if he could not believe what he was witnessing. His head slumped as he covered his eyes and brows with his palm. He shook his head in concerned disbelief. Stack continued: "Lets all hope that Hammer is OK. It doesn’t look good. Even Dennis Stamp is worried about him." Hammer began to move as the referee and second assisted him to a sitting position. Stamp looked like he had just been acquitted of capital murder as he gave an exasperated sigh of relief.
Stamp assisted Hammer to his feet. Stamp put his arm around him and asked if he was all right. Hammer nodded his head affirmatively. Stamp patted him on the back and gave a thumbs up signal. The crowd cheered. Stamp extended his hand to Hammer who was bent over with hands on knees and breathing heavily. As Hammer went to shake hands, Stamp caught him with a seventh neckbreaker. Until then, I actually thought I had witnessed as serious unscripted injury.
OK, so I was young.
Stamp had some pretty impressive victories in the territory. He beat Ricky Romero in a Texas Death match in Lubbock. He gained several victories over Dory Funk, Jr. with the Brass Knuckles title at stake. However, his finest moment was his world title match with Terry Funk in Lubbock in July 1976. Stamp and Terry also had a world title match in Amarillo. Stamp’s spot in the title matches demonstrates the respect the Funks had for him.More...