When I was working on Eat Sleep Wrestle, one of the things I asked the younger wrestlers was who had been the most helpful to them among the veteran wrestling stars. One of the men who has made the most impact on today’s indy stars is Tracy Smothers
Tracy Smothers has been wrestling for 33 years. He’s still wrestling today. He just doesn’t wrestle as much.
Notice I didn’t say as often. Tracy is as hard a worker as any you’ll find on the indy scene. He’s constantly on the road, working shows anywhere he can get booked. But at age 52, Tracy works smart. He knows he can’t go full on every night like he once did, but he also knows he doesn’t have to. The people who buy tickets have come to be entertained, and Tracy has not lost a step when it comes to entertaining.
I saw Tracy in New Albany recently in a match against the very talented Mitchell Huff. Tracy and his second A.J. Riley came down the ramp to a chorus of boos. For the next twenty-five minutes, Tracy held the entire crowd in the palm of his hands.
The drama begins with Tracy reacting to the chorus of “Tracy sucks” chants. He warns everyone that if he hears, “Tracy sucks,” one more time, “Everybody in this building is gonna die.” The crowd renews their chant even louder.
Tracy then tells the people that they better not chant for Mitchell. No one, and I mean no one, works harder to put the young stars of the indy scene over than Tracy, and Tracy gets what he really wants: a ground swell of support for his opponent.
Tracy then tries to talk Mitchell out of the match. He begs the “talented” young man to shake hands and forfeit. Mitchell of course refuses, and the ref, struggling to keep a straight face, tells Tracy he has to get ready to wrestle.
Tracy concedes, but he is reluctant to take his gear off. “If I start strippin’ the divorce rate in this town is gonna skyrocket! Wives will leave husbands! Sisters will leave brothers!” Tracy slowly strips down into his ring attire, adorned with the confederate flag, and prepares for battle.
Tracy’s bag of tricks rarely change in the ring. He cries to the ref, telling him Mitchell has pulled his hair. He tries to distract the ref so A.J. can get in a dirty shot on Mitchell. He tries to get a foreign object from A.J. but keeps tossing it back as the eagle-eyed kids in the front row keep ratting him out. Tracy’s like a Looney Tunes character, his every expression animated. He’s Wile E. Coyote, only this time, the Roadrunner can hear the kids shouting, “Look out!”
Each lock up is followed by a hasty retreat. Tracy calls time and races out of the ring, drawing more boos and “Tracy sucks” chant. When he sees an opening for a cheap shot, he takes it, asking the fans, “Who sucks now?”
They answer: “You do!”
As Tracy grows frustrated in his struggle to find some advantage against his young foe, he tries another tactic. Instead of wrestling, he wants to do a dance contest. Tracy struts his stuff first, prancing and preening to “Stayin’ Alive.” The crowd boos him relentlessly, but when the babyface gets his turn, they cheer. It’s all a ruse, of course, and when the babyface is dancing, that’s when Tracy makes his big move, trying to take down a distracted opponent and steal a victory.
When Tracy wins, it’s always because he found some dastardly way to cheat. When he loses, he always finds an excuse and lodges a formal protest before vowing to never come back to this town again. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who wins. The fans are the real winners because for a good 25 minutes, they were entertained – even though Tracy and his opponent only actually wrestled for three minutes.
Tracy Smothers is one of the last of a rare breed. He’s as old school as they come, a master of psychology who can make an audience do his bidding at every turn. You won’t see any high flying or daredevil stunts out of Tracy, but you will chant, “Tracy sucks,” and you will be entertained.
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