Saturday, February 04, 2023

Thoughts on "The Sodbuster"

 Elk Grove sports fans: Great game last night at Laguna Creek between the Cardinals and Monterey Trail. Read about it HERE

In all the years of watching "All-Star Wrestling" on TV I became aware and expectant that the guy introduced first was going to lose the pro wrestling match. The star was the second guy (or gal) introduced to the TV and, in most instances, the studio audience. If they were "heels" you boo'd them. If there were the good guys (known as "Baby Faces") you cheer'd them.

Kenny Jay was always the "Face" introduced first who took on the "heel" in television matches. It was Jay, though, who was supposed to lose. But, "The Sodbuster" always gave his opponent a really good match. He had all the right moves and holds, but gee, in the end he did something that got him pinned. DARN! we would say, but Kenny Jay made the "Heel" sweat a bit.

He died this week in his home state of Minnesota at the age of 85. His real name was Kenneth John Benkowski. Almost none of the pro wrestlers used their real names. 

In a recent podcast "AWA Unleashed" one of the hosts, Mick Karch, talked about a time when two of the stars, Verne Gagne and The Crusher, took on Kenny as a tag team partner in a six-man tag match at one of the big arena matches in St. Paul, Minn., and Jay was the guy who applied the pin to one of their opponents to win the match. That likely made his career.

Marty O'Neill, the long-time ring announcer of the American Wrestling Association (AWA), introduced Jay as "the very capable Kenny Jay" prior to all his matches. For years I would use that same announcement as a joke for people who walk into meeting rooms. Wrestling fans within ear shot laughed, knowing from whence it came.

You'd have to be a fan of pro wrestling from the 70's and 80's to remember Jay, but to those of us who were fans of AWA wrestling this is a sad day.

Kenny Jay and George "Scrap Iron" Gadaski take on "The East/West Connection", Adrian Adonis and Jesse "the Body" Ventura, who went on to become governor of Minnesota.

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