Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bad News

Allen Coage was always Bad News for his opponents."Bad News Allen was one of those four or five wrestlers who I considered to be the hardest men in wrestling," Tom 'Dynamite Kid' Billington wrote in his autobiography. "He was definitely bad news. Don't get me wrong, he was a good friend, but once he got you in the ring, it was as if he didn't know you. I've had a lot of hard matches in my career, most of them in Japan, because that's how they like their wrestling, but the matches I had with Bad News were something else."

Bad News took the bronze medal in Judo at the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the heavyweight division, and also won two straight gold medals at the Pan-American Games. His coach had a friend who worked for one of the sports papers in Japan, and knew NJPW was on the lookout for new recruits to enter pro wrestling. Never a wrestling fan, Coage wavered in his decision, but eventually decided to do it, partly for the chance to go back to Japan, where he had trained in judo for a year. He trained under Antonio Inoki directly and in the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo starting in 1977, going on to spend nearly 15 years with NJPW. Bad News Allen wrestled in Japan most of his career, and that is perhaps partly why he was never a bigger name for North American wrestling fans.

"I didn't want to work in the States, because you've always got to fight with the promoters for your money," he said in an interview with SLAM Wrestling.

Coage's first stint with the WWF came in 1978 ( back when it was still the WWWF, and run by Vince McMahon Sr ). At the time, NJPW had a relationship with the WWWF, and sent Coage in for some American-style ring-experience. It was in the WWWF that he first started using Bad News Allen as his ring name, instead of the New Japan nickname of Buffalo Allen Coage. In 1982, he made his first tour with Stu hart's Stampede promotion. Bret Hart and Dynamite Kid had been on tour with Coage in Japan, and convinced Stu to bring him in. Again he was to stay there for a number of years, and eventually make his home in Calgary. When Stu Hart folded the Stampede promotion for the first time, he sold the rights to his area to the WWF. As part of the deal, Stu "arranged for Dynamite, Davey, Bret and myself to go into New York. I never went because my wife was pregnant, and that was going to be our last child. I wanted to be home for once, not always on the road. So I stayed until 1988."

Eventually agreeing to join Vince Jr's WWF, Coage was to make a splash in the Battle Royale at Wrestlemania IV, before beginning long feuds with the likes of Jake "the Snake" Roberts, and Roddy Piper. He was to stay wth the WWF until 1990 as Bad News Brown, but it isn't an experience he cherishes. "They never kept their word to me," he said. "It wasn't a fun time for me. You see, when I left there I was really happy. I was brought there under false pretenses. They never kept their word to me. I was just sick of the lying all the time ... That was 2 1/2 years of my life that I really didn't enjoy."

He considers his favorite matches to have been against Inoki, and Hulk Hogan, but two wrestlers really stand above all for him. "The two best wrestlers that I ever worked with, bar none, were Dynamite Kid and Ricky Steamboat. They were the best at that time, pound for pound, without a doubt."

Coage was rightfully proud of his career, and that he "always worked hard" in ring no matter the size of the crowd. "It was always business with me. There was never no playing ribs on people, making fun of people. I was there to work and do my job and get paid for it."
Allen Coage passed away at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2007. Coage was taken to Calgary's Foothills Hospital on Monday evening, suffering from severe chest pains, and went into cardiac arrest early Tuesday morning. He was 63.

( much of the information in this article was provided by SLAM Wrestling )

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