Las Vegas View – March 3, 1999
By Kirk Kern
When “Buffalo” Jim Barrier staged the first graduation/exhibition for Buffalo Jim’s Wrestling School, more than 2,200 people showed up.
“At that point, I figured we’d better get an arena and put on a big show,” Barrier said.
Barrier chose the arena at The Orleans for the first Buffalo Wrestling Federation card, scheduled for March 20.
“It’s a nice venue, a neighborhood venue,” Barrier said. “It’s for the people of Vegas and I liked that. They were able to accommodate me and work with me. I really hope to work something out with them to be a permanent fixture there. I’m not much for change; I’d like to stick in one place awhile.”
Barrier said the card will include a feature match between the first BWF heavyweight champion, Rush, against veteran pro wrestler The Tonga Kid. The six-match card is also scheduled to feature Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and tag-team competitors Public Enemy and The Head Shrinkers. Nick Bockwinkel will serve as guest announcer.
“We’re just gonna go out and see what we can do with it,” Barrier said. “We can show it can be done.”
One person who hopes for success is Rush, otherwise known as Gary Mills.
Mills, 28, became the first BWF heavyweight champion by winning a 10-man elimination tournament during the school’s “graduation.” The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Mills says his nickname is short for Adrenaline Rush, because that describes his style in the ring. It will be Mills’ first one-on-one match.
“You have to see me to appreciate me,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence. The Tonga Kid is one of those guys from the old school, so he’s pretty experienced.”
Right now, Rush is a good guy, or “baby face.” That could change, however.
“It’s good for now,” he said. “If the people don’t like it, I can change. That’s even better.”
If he changes, Mills could end up like “Superstar” Mike Lane, a veteran wrestler also scheduled to compete in the first card. Lane is what’s known as a heel, the wrestler fans love to hate. He has been in the business 14 years and has competed around the United States and Europe.
“I’m 236-pounds, 5-foot-11 of twisted steel and sex appeal,” he said. “I’m every man’s regret and every women’s pet. I’m the human heartthrob himself.”
Lane is scheduled to wrestle a recent graduate of Barrier school known as Big Dollars.
“He calls himself Big Dollars, but I call him Small Change,” Lane said. “He’s 383 pounds. This will be his debut, but it could also be his end. I’m going to cash him in.”
Barrier hopes to cash in as well on a sports/entertainment show that has surged in popularity the last few years. The World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling shows on Monday nights are part of the reason Monday Night Football finished with its lowest ratings in its 28-year history.
Nielson Media Research recorded Monday Night Football was viewed by 13.8 million households, an 8 percent decline from the average in 1997.
“A lot of people might say it’s fake, but I’ve seen a couple of dozen guys come and go at the school already,” Mills said. “They can’t hang, and you never see them again.
“They pay a few hundred dollars to get the snot beat out of them. But the fact is, you enjoy it for the entertainment. As long as you get some emotion out of it, you’re entertained.”
Tickets for the March 20 show are available at TicketMaster locations and at the box office of The Orleans and Gold Coast hotel-casinos. Prices are $12, $18 and $24. The show begins at 7 p.m.