Mick Foley remembers Brickhouse Brown
Mick Foley posted the following via Facebook:
July 29, 2018 was a very sad day for wrestling, with the loss of Nikolai Volkoff, Brian Christopher and Brickhouse Brown. While the deaths of Nikolai, a WWE Hall of Famer, and Brian, a big part of the Attitude Era have received a great deal of attention, the death of Brickhouse, a mainstay of many regional promotions in the 1980’s and 1990’s, has gone largely overlooked. So, it is with great sadness, but also great fondness that I share some thoughts on Brickhouse Brown, who I was honored to call a friend for the past 30 years.
Quite simply, Brick was good to me when not too many people were. When I debuted in Memphis in the summer of 1988, I had a rough time making the transition from independent wrestling – where the name of the game was to make every opponent look as good as possible at every chance, to working with the full time Memphis promotion – where how strong or weak you looked, against which opponents and why, had a great deal to do with how many butts would be in the seats of cities we worked on a weekly basis: Memphis every Monday, Louisville every Tuesday, Evansville ever Wednesday, Nashville every Saturday – with spot shows throughout the Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana area every Wednesday and Thursday. Brickhouse had just turned babyface when I arrived as the newest member of Robert Fuller’s “Stud’s Stable” and on my first Monday night in Memphis, he had the Mid-South Coliseum rocking as he served up payback to former stable-mate “Gorgeous” Gary Young. Brickhouse had that fire needed to launch into a great babyface comeback, and I learned from him – in the ring, in the car, on the road – on a daily basis. In this hectic, competitive, surreal world Brickhouse Brown became an unlikely ally and a friend.
“Cactus, you’re going to make it in this business”, he said with a laugh after I returned from a Saturday morning TV match. Trust me, this was not a position shared by many in the wrestling world at the time. “You’re going to make it because fans can tell you’re having fun out there – and that makes it fun for them to watch.”
When Jerry Jarrett purchased the World Class Championship Wrestling territory, based out of Dallas, Texas (running shows in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and elsewhere) a few of his Memphis wrestlers – me, Brick and Gary Young – made the move to Dallas. Brickhouse loved the city of Dallas, knew the best places for catfish and barbeque, and took great pride in showing me around a new city, a new territory – that brought with it a new lease on wrestling life.
By now, some of you may have heard stories about my legendary thriftiness on the road. Some of them….ok, most of them, are true. But almost all of them began out of necessity, and when World Class made a January trip to Illinois (although based in Dallas, the World Class show was seen in over 100 markets around the country, and we made occasional journeys to the midwest) I found myself without enough money for a hotel room, and was simply too shy to
ask if I might crash in a fellow wrestler’s room. So I borrowed the keys to the van the company had rented, and found myself huddled in the backseat, with a sheet I had scavenged from the housekeeping department, as the temperature dipped into the teens. After an hour or so, there was a knock on the van door. I peered out the window and saw Brick’s smiling face. “Cactus Jack”, he said, with a warm, and very much welcome laugh. “What are you doing out here, man?” When I told him I simply lacked the funds for a hotel room, he laughed again. Even 30 years after the fact, I can still hear that laugh in my mind, can still hear that warm voice, telling me “get out of that van, man – you’re staying with me!” And so I did…and I never forgot it.
Brickhouse and I stayed in touch off and on until a few months before his death. The pain he endured in his final year was agonizing, and he was so thankful for the love given to him by wrestling fans, those he had worked with, and to the Cauliflower Ally Club for their support. I see only now that a few of the messages I sent never reached him, and I wish I’d been a better friend at the end. I look back at some of those text messages he sent in that final year, and wish I could have done more to help. “One year is all I really have, is what they told me” he wrote in a text from August 9, 2017. “It’s way too late for me now, Mick…I’m in so much pain.”
You are free from all that pain now, Brick. Rest in peace, my friend.
Please share this post if you can. Brickhouse was a good man, and a really good, solid worker, who gave far more to our business than he got in return.