Wrestling - WrestleReunion: Bob Orton casts a legacy

WWE Hall of Famer got his start in the Southeast

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Cowboy" Bob Orton"

A member of the WWE Hall of Fame, "Cowboy" Bob Orton is best remembered as the cast-wearing bodyguard/tag team partner to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. During feuds with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Bruno Sammartino in the '80s, Orton's cast would become an infamous fixture in helping him and Piper attain victories. Son of Bob Orton Sr., and father to current WWE star Randy Orton, Bob remains a part of the wrestling industry, helping run Tennessee Mountain Wrestling in Knoxville, and occasionally using his dirty tactics to help Randy win matches. As he comes to town as part of WrestleReunion on Sun., April 3, Bob talks about some of his more memorable matches in Atlanta.

You became best known to wrestling fans in the World Wrestling Federation, but you actually got your start in Atlanta and the Southeast.

Yeah, sure did. I started in Florida in '72 and I think I come to Georgia in '73 and stayed about half the year, left for half a year and was back for two or three years. Then I went back to Florida for a couple of years. So the first five or six years I was down there in the Southeast.

You returned to the area when you were helping Randy in his feud against the Undertaker.

Yeah, I was down there in 2005. Boy, a lot has changed. It sure has built up since we were down there in the late '70s.

Where did you usually wrestle back then, the Omni or the City Auditorium?

Both. I wrestled at the Omni two or three times, maybe. But the Friday night show every week at the City Auditorium is where I did a lot of shows. The Omni came a little later and every once in a while they'd run a big show there.

What were some of your more memorable matches in Atlanta?

When %22Dirty%22 Dick Slater and I were tag team partners we had some phenomenal matches down there. But the one I guess I will always remember was Ray Candy. He probably weighed 400 pounds and at the time I weighed maybe 200. He was laying down on me and wouldn't get up, so I reached around and hooked his head and hooked that leg and cradled him up and clamped my hands. That 400-pound son of a gun went right up over my head and I suplexed him. His eyes got as big around as saucers. When I watch it back, I laugh. But he wasn't laughing. That, I think, is my most memorable moment in Atlanta at Turner Studios.

You'll be appearing at WrestleReunion a few hours before your son competes at WrestleMania. What are you looking forward to the most as you return to Atlanta?

I'll get to see Bruno Sammartino. I guess he's going to stay home after this one and won't be going on the road anymore, so it's an honor to be at his last show. Like I said, I was in Atlanta a long time and it's always nice to come back.

The two of you were pretty big rivals for a while. How well do you think you'll get along at WrestleReunion?

It shouldn't affect anything unless he holds a grudge. I don't harbor any bad feelings. We didn't beat up Bruno too much. A little bit, though, when he tried to stick his nose in our business. I guess we roughed him up a bit. We took that hair that was combed over one side of his head and kind of pushed it up straight. I can see where he might be upset, but I'm sure he's gotten over that now.

You were a big part of the first three WrestleManias. How does that event today compare to the ones you were part of?

I was also in 21 and 22. I think everything's gotten bigger and better as time goes on. Those guys are doing amazing things nowadays. Not that we weren't, but they're doing really amazing things these days and I enjoy watching it. Heck, if you go to WrestleMania it's the greatest show on earth.