Al "Rock" Rogowski: The New Blonde Bomber



Thanks to Peggy Lathan for transcribing this article for us, from an original article from Wrestling Revue provided by Mike Cline at Thornhill Entertainment.



Rock Rogowski - Young Man At The Crossroads

Should He Be Good or Bad? That is the Question

by Norm Kietzer, Wrestling Revue magazine (1968)

Alan Rogowski became a professional wrestler six months ago. This 22 year old newcomer to the mat wars had just finished a three year hitch with the Marine Corps. He is a nephew of the famous Bill Afflis, who is better known in wrestling circles as Dick the Bruiser. However, it wasn't the Bruiser who started Rogowski in wrestling.

"I've followed my uncle's career in football and wrestling ever since I was a youngster. He was always my hero when I was younger. I wouldn't want to say that Dick didn't play a big part in my decision to become a wrestler. But before becoming a professional wrestler, I trained under a variety of top wrestlers. The Bruiser and the Crusher taught me quite a bit about the rough style of wrestling, but I also worked out quite a bit with Danny Hodge, Eddie Sharkey, Verne Gagne and Dale Lewis."

"I remember my first weeks on my own. The Bruiser sent me to Minneapolis where promoter Wally Karbo gave me a chance to wrestle. I thought that I was pretty good, but he had me work out in the ring prior to television wrestling one Saturday. They brought Danny Hodge into the ring and he put a hold on me. Karbo told me to break the hold, but I spent over ten minutes struggling to get loose before Hodge finally broke the hold voluntarily."

"Then Dale Lewis followed Hodge into the ring. Lewis let me put any hold on him that I wanted. Then he would ask me to try to hold it as long as I could. I don't think there was a single hold that I held for more than ten seconds."

"After that, Gagne and several of the other wrestlers showed me what I was doing wrong. I soon learned why Gagne was the world champion. He is a virtual encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge."

This is just a few of the things that Alan Rogowski had to say about his early career. In high school, Rogowski had gained fame as a football star. He earned the nickname "The Rock" because his opponents found that it was impossible to move him out of the way on a play over on his side of the line. When he entered the professional ring, the nickname stuck. He soon became as well known as "The Rock" as he was by his real name.

It was in Omaha, Nebraska where he really became a star. Promoter Joe Dusek tells it this way, "I gave the guy a chance to wrestle more or less as a favor to his uncle. Dick the Bruiser had drawn some great crowds for me in Omaha and I felt that I should at least give The Rock a chance to show his wares. Was I surprised! When I saw The Rock handle such veterans as Iron Mike DiBiase, Harley Race, Bob Orton and Mitsu Arakawa, I realized that I wasn't doing anyone but myself a favor by having The Rock on my cards. In no time he had won the Midwest Heavyweight Championship and was headlining all the cards in a four-state area. Whenever I see a young man like The Rock enter wrestling, it makes me feel good. Mind you, he is not in the same class as Ernie Dusek was in his prime, but he would defeat most of the wrestlers the Riot Squad used to face."

So it was that Alan Rogowski learned his lessons well and a few months after turning professional, he was one of the top stars in the Midwest. Now he is faced with the big decision. "What style of wrestling is the best for me?" is the question he has been asking himself over and over for the past few months.

"I know that there is a natural tendency to copy the Bruiser. As my uncle, he has a great influence on me. However, I don't want to be a copy of anyone. After all, as long as there is wrestling, there will be only one "Bruiser" and any imitation will be just that. I'm not trying to make a career out of being Dick the Bruiser's nephew. I want to be known for my own style. So far I haven't wrestled as rough and rugged as Bruiser and Crusher do, but sometimes being easy on an opponent has cost me, and in this business, the more you win, the more money you make."

"I know there are some wrestlers who make it mainly on skill. Gagne, Hodge and Sharkey are some of the best scientific wrestlers around, but if you watch them in action, you will soon realize that they can dish out the rough stuff as fast as anyone else."

"I have come to the conclusion that the difference between a scientific wrestler and a rough style wrestler is more or less in the mind of wrestling fans. Actually, in professional wrestling, everyone is rough. Some may occasionally wrestle a clean match, but if one man wants to resort to illegal tactics, I don't know of a single wrestler who isn't ready to fight fire with fire."

"After six months of wrestling, I've decided that the Bruiser's style is not exactly my style. Neither is Gagne's. I've seen too many wrestlers who never reach the top because they are too busy trying to copy the style of some great champion. The style may work for the champion, but in almost all cases, it doesn't work for the pupil because he has a different body and a different personality"

"I have one goal in professional wrestling and that is to win the world's heavyweight championship. To get to the top, I feel that I have to develop my own individual style. When people go to a wrestling match, I want them to talk about 'The Rock' and his style of wrestling."

"Let's take the current champion Verne Gagne for example. He has speed, agility and experience. Twenty years of professional wrestling has molded him into a machine. He is small, but he can run circles around larger wrestlers. The drop kicks and the flying head scissors are his pet weapons."

"Now if I tried to copy Gagne's style with my body, I'd never be successful. My size and strength are my strong points and I have to learn to use them to my advantage."

With that, The Rock turned to his tag team partner for the night's wrestling, Cowboy Bill Watts. We were watching the matches at the beautiful Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. This building is also the home of the Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League. We were watching the matches from what normally serves as the hockey bench. Watts and The Rock were dressed for wrestling and in addition, were wearing white t-shirts. Both revealed bulging muscles.

"As you can see, I'm more the Bill Watts shape," The Rock said. "Watts has shown me a lot since we started tag teaming. If there is any style I'll copy, it'll be Watts. He is both rough and scientific. That is a combination I want to follow. What I have to decide now is how much of what I will do. I've only wrestled in the midwest, but from now on, I'm going to try to get bookings wherever I can. I want to wrestle the best all over the country. I realize that I'm not ready for a shot at the world's heavyweight championship, but it won't be long before I will be. I hope to win the title in about five years. Five years may seem like a long time. But as a professional wrestler, I feel that I can last twenty-five years. So, five years will just be a short time as far as my career is concerned."

After Watts and Rogowski went to the ring for their match, I moved over to the other end of the bench where Stan "Big K" Kowalski was sitting alone. Stan is a vet wrestler himself. He has been a co-holder of the world tag team championship four times and is one of the best in the business. I asked him what he thought about Rogowski. "He's going to make it big," said Stan. "I've seen a lot of wrestlers come up and go back down again. The Rock is no flash in the pan. I've been in the ring with him once and he is as rough an opponent as anyone I've met. The Rock is going to be champ one day."

No, The Rock and Bill Watts didn't win a title that night. Everyone was disqualified in their tag team match. But as I watched the young man in action, I knew I was watching a future champion. Five years from now I may be watching him defending the world's heavyweight championship because, as Stan Kowalski said, "The Rock is going to be champ one day."

Thanks to Peggy Lathan for transcribing this article for us, from an original article from Wrestling Revue provided by Mike Cline at Thornhill Entertainment.

From the November 1968 issue of Wrestling Revue

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