Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Remembering "Buffalo" Jim Barrier

Today I'd like to tell my readers about a man named Jim Barrier, professionally known as "Buffalo Jim." Today's WWE fans have likely never heard of him. In fact, wrestling fans anywhere outside of Las Vegas have likely never heard of him. That's unfortunate, because Jim Barrier was a great man.

I first made contact with Jim in 1999. I was a punk kid still in school, but I'd managed to land a gig writing columns for a pro wrestling newsletter. I contacted Jim with some writing samples and asked if I could possibly do a spotlight segment on his promotion-the Buffalo Wrestling Federation-for the newsletter's next edition. To my shock, Jim actually replied to my message. To my absolute amazement, he said yes. I wrote my first article about an upcoming BWF show. The rest, as they say, is history. The next thing I knew I was writing about the BWF full-time. My gig basically became writing an unofficial BWF newsletter within another wrestling newsletter. Luckily my boss at the time was so excited to have a connection to an actual pro wrestling company that she didn't mind hyping the BWF every month. Looking back on it now, I can only think of two reasons Jim may have decided to talk to me that day.

The first reason was actually a brilliant move on his part. By agreeing to work with our newsletter Jim gained free publicity for his year-old company, while likely also figuring that we weren't about to bad-mouth a group that was helping us gain credibility within the wrestling business. To be perfectly honest, Jim figured correctly on that one. Our newsletter hyped up the BWF like it was the second coming of Jesus himself despite having never seen one of their shows live up to that point. Jim made all of this happen for his company by simply saying yes to a request. That kind of simplistic long-term thinking is why Jim Barrier was a fantastic promoter. In my opinion though, the second reason Jim probably spoke to me is even more impressive than the first.

Reason number two is...Jim wanted to give a shot to a young, unqualified wrestling fan with a dream. Jim Barrier's heart was truly just as large as his brain, if not ten times bigger. As time went on Jim gave the newsletter access to any information or interviews it needed. One day, Jim finally invited my associates and I to check out a live BWF show. From the front row no less. The show was headlined by Gary Nash, Kevin's "brother." One of the top good guys that evening was a fat, masked rapper who the crowd didn't want to wave their hands along with. Special ring announcer and former wrestling champion Nick Bockwinkle got a bigger reaction than the talents he was introducing. In short, the show sucked, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world. I met a lot of the BWF talent that night, including my first face-to-face meeting with "Buffalo" Jim himself. Then, just when I thought he couldn't treat me any more generously than he already had, Jim invited me to go meet the WWF's Godfather! Godfather was only signing autographs that evening during the show's brief intermission, but because I "knew" Jim, I got to speak to a huge WWF star for close to an hour. Jim gave me my first real break writing about the wrestling business. I'll never be able to thank him enough for it.

Jim was a large part of the Nevada community. He participated in various county events, even winning the title of Las Vegas' most colorful character for 2005 in the Review Journal. Jim entertained wrestling fans years before Eric Bischoff had the idea to relaunch WCW in Las Vegas. He also stood up for the rights of local wrestling fans when an attempt was made to restrict their access to BWF television tapings. More importantly, Jim Barrier stood up for what he believed was right. His court testimony helped convict Rick Rizzolo, owner of the Crazy Horse Too topless bar, which was believed to have a hand in numerous crimes between 1995 and 2001. Sadly, Jim Barrier was taken away from our world on April 6th, 2008. He leaves behind four daughters and numerous friends.

I'm proud to say I was one of them.

RIP "Buffalo" Jim Barrier
(March 22, 1953-April 6, 2008)






1 comment:

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