Cowboy Bill Watts remembers Killer Kowalski.

I guess at this age... when we reflect upon those we 'knew'... or that 'impacted our lives'... and 'their passing'... it is a time of thought and of the mystery of life...

I believe in a Sovereign Lord... so I do NOT believe in 'random events'... I believe 'everything has purpose and meaning'... whether or not I understand it...

And I've seen people 'who come into my life' for a 'moment'... and those who have come in for 'a while'... and those too who have 'remained close'...

Walter Kowalski was one 'who came in for a brief but so important moment' in the early '60's when I went -- as a young up and coming wrestling star... I went to the NY 'territory' of Vince McMahon, Sr., on the recommendation to them by Wild Red Berry in about '63 or '64...

Killer Kowalski was a huge star... almost like a guy who had two distinct careers... his original publicity photos showed this giant man with an awesome body... formed by weights and such...

and then... when I met him... he had become a 'vegetarian'... and lost that 'bulk and buff body'... replacing it with still a tall and formidable personage... with unbelievable endurance... and his 'style was non-stop'... so you'd better be 'in shape' if you 'wanted to keep up'...

and 'there was method to his madness of attack'... he would 'pick a body part'... and 'attack it and attack it'... so the crowd 'knew' he was trying to destroy you'... by totally disabling that part... your shoulder... arm... leg... whatever he selected... it was so tenacious...

A man of some 'mystery'... a Canadian... but a guy with a heart of pure gold...

They booked me with him (as I was 'first getting over' on their TV and in that area')... in Washington DC... and there 'Vince and all the bosses... including Toots Mondt, Zacko, and Gilzenberg were always there... we did a TV their... that hit NY a week later... and also they ran the old Uline Arena...(if that name is correct)...

So... I was in a 'featured match'... (not the main event -- that was Bruno vs whoever was his top opponent then... and the semi... or co-feature there in Washington DC...would be Bobo with his current top opponent)... with Kowalski... and they had us 'go Broadway' for 20 minutes... and it turned out to be an 'awesome match'... the people never sat down... it was non-stop... and so... the 'bosses loved it too'... in fact... Cowboy Bill Watts 'got over' there because of 'that match with Killer'... because of 'going 20 minutes Broadway with him!' (That is 'how over he was')...

he 'totally got me over by going 'through with me'... awesome!

And since I 'could stay with him'... he really took a liking to me... and 'kind of took me under his wing'... and we began even traveling together... I lived then in Paulsboro, NJ., and he lived in Philly... and so... we would travel in his Cadillac...

Plus... he had an airplane... a Beechcraft "V-Tail" Bonanza... the then 'Cadillac of single engine planes'... and he would take me with him in that... and also began teaching me how to fly it... I remember... it had a Canadian tail number... the last letters it seems were VVV...

In fact... once when he went home for a vacation... and left me his car keys... which also had his plane keys on it... I 'borrowed his plane'... and flew up and over NY City... while the World's Fair was in progress... CRAZY...

But he just laughed when I told him... as I said... if you were Walter's friend... you were his friend...

They 'booked us everywhere'... and each venue... we would do the 20 minutes Broadway... and it would 'get me over'... (plus the other 'top hands' began to give me a certain respect... as they saw me emerging in that light...of course Bruno Sammartino was an awesome friend and mentor too... as well as Monsoon... so many great men... but Walter was special)...

In fact... in Pennsylvania once... at a 'spot show'... I could see 'Wild Red Berry watching our match'... (which did not happen much since in the dressing rooms then... the 'boys' generally played poker... and did not pay attention to the matches... as neither did the 'office men'... who should have been...I also say guys who were losing heavily get so upset... they could not even focus on their match)...thus... years later... in my dressing rooms... all card playing stopped one hour before the first match bell!

And Walter and I 'worked a shoot'... and Red Berry thought we had gotten mad at each other... and went to tell everyone in the dressing room (in fact James Dillon was a young state athletic commission referee then... and was there that night)...

Well (and I have always maintained... that two top hands could 'work so good'... they could 'even make the boys' think it was a 'shoot' if they did certain things... that were not generally of the 'working tradition')... so... by the time we got to the dressing room... it was 'set' for us to really 'get them'... and in fact... the dressing room soon 'chose sides'.... as the older wrestlers sympathized with Walter's saying 'these young guys... think they are stars... and do not give those of us who are enough respect'...

And then... the younger guys... were on my side...when I said, "These older guys don't know when its 'down hill for them'... and the changing of the guard'"...

Old Frank Judson... the office man... 'got it'... because he was 'an old shooter'... and so... he went along with it... and Walter and I had several 'back to back encounters' in that dressing room... that had to 'be broken up'... it was truly hilarious...

And he stormed out of there.... then I stormed out of there...

But we were riding together... and laughed all the way home... it was a 'good rib'... we fooled the boys...

So... Walter "Killer" Kowalski... came into my life for a moment... and made a huge impact... with 'who he was'... a man of ethics... his word was good... his heart was huge... and he worked extremely hard in the ring...

He was a lonely man then... a bachelor... and dated little... I am so glad he found and had a family as referenced by Diane's email... he was such a big hearted guy...

In fact... in another 'spot show'...in Virginia... I kept 'potatoing him'... and he got mad... and grabbed the ring bell hammer to come after me... and he was really hot...

But I looked at him... and 'that hammer'... was NOT a full-sized hammer... but a small one... and it looked so damn funny to see this big 6' 7" man chasing me with a 'toy hammer'... (I was the baby-face... so could not run much from the heel)... that I looked at it... I knew he was 'pissed about the potatoes'... but that hammer looked so ridiculous... I shouted at him... "what are you going to do with that stupid toy hammer"...

And he stopped... and realized how 'stupid it did look'... and in his 'wolfish way'... he grinned... and threw it away... and then... 'attacked me'... and 'things were back to normal'...

Eating as a vegetarian... I've never seen anyone consume so many vegetables... that too was a whole new experience...

When I left there... I only saw him once or twice afterwards...

When I had Mid-South... I never contacted him to 'come in'... because the trips were such killers... I knew he would not like it there...

I saw him once in Vegas at the Cauliflower Reunion... but I do NOT know if he 'really remembered' me in the same way I remembered him...

Walter Kowalski... you were a true 'giant to me'... and 'you touched my life'... may you 'Rest in Peace'...

Cowboy Bill Watts

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I grew up as abig AWA fan in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we had The Milwaukee Arena for our matches and had The Crusher and The Bruiser wrestle there every couple months.

But also visits from Andre, The Killer, Wahoo, Verne Gagne and so on.

Those were great years, so I remember The Killers passing I also remember a great promoter who made that possable - Wally Carbo.

 sequoia laguna

big fanOf Dick the Bruiser & The Crusher