The Oshawa Express - Koko B Ware puts on a show
   

Koko B Ware puts on a show

Darko puts a big hold on Crazzy Steve during a Great Canadian Wrestling (GCW) show at the Oshawa Legion Hall. The evening was highlighted by highly-regarded Koko B Ware.

By Wally Donaldson
The Oshawa Express

The man inside the wrestling ring commonly known as Birdman has earned his wings through 28 years of throwing opponents to the canvas while sporting a huge grin, flapping his arms and sounding off with a loud, gravely singing voice, “Oh, yeah!” And if there is one attribute Koko B Ware does enjoy performing regularly as his signature move, it’s his version of the bird dance, shared by many of his faithful before and after each bout. His 10 years in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), today known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), vaulted this highly likeable individual to the high echelons within the wrestling industry, darn close to the likings of Hulk Hogan and Brett “Hitman” Hart.

And though some wrestlers of that era are critical of today’s escapades with so many foreign objects being used, many times as weapons outside the ring, and sometimes bizarre storylines, Birdman chooses to take a much softer approach to the point of not biting the hand that feeds you.“Yah, I hear some of the wrestlers saying how bad the sport is today, but you won’t hear it from me,” he says. “The fact is, Vince McMahon gave me and every other wrestler an opportunity to perform and make a good living while doing it.“Sure, wrestling has changed. But that’s like anything else over time, isn’t it? Wrestling has been good to all of us.”

And Birdman has been good, right back. His performance with the Great Canadian Wrestling (GCW) card last Thursday night at the Oshawa Legion Hall was one piece of a highly-entertaining evening put on by perhaps lesser lights in this profession, but very much as determined to put on a show for the paying customer.

“That’s why I like it here so much,” Birdman lets out a huge smile. “The wrestlers really put on a good show for the fans and I am very humbled at how many of these fans remember the Birdman. I get them flapping their arms and dancing and you can tell they’re having a good time.” Koko got his wings tarnished during a bout with RJ City and Asylym on this night. You just knew who would prevail in the bout, especially when Koko didn’t like the idea of being blindsided by City.
 

Asylym won his earlier bout in a table match against the good guy, Rico Montana. Darka and Crazzy Steve also put on an entertaining show, along with Cody Deanear, Griswald Liverpool, Atlas, Otis Idol and Tyler Tirva.

And when the GCW returns to the Legion hall for a matinee show on Nov. 30, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, another popular former wrestler out of the WWF stable, will highlight this show. He will be joined by the popular Tammy Sytch, known as “Sunny.”

Born as James Ware in June of 1957, the Birdman took to the sport in his hometown of Union City, Tennessee when a group of his 16- year-old friends began training.“I peeked through a door and saw them training and the first thing I thought was, ‘Hey, I want to do that.’” He presented a release form signed by his parents and the budding star gained his internship. In search of a monicker, Birdman relates, “I remember one of the players on my high school football team saying to me, “You are my cocoa.

And I thought, ‘Hey, why not the Cocoa Kid?“I stuck with that name for a number of years but, sooner or later, I wasn’t a kid any more. I saw a sign in Jamaica that said Koko. I liked it so I went from Cocoa to Koko and later Jim Ross said if Koko is in the ring, the opponents better beware.“And that was it, Koko B Ware.” Undoubtedly his shining moment was at the dome in Pontiac, Michigan before more than 93,000 wrestling fans in 1987.

Although Koko did lose to The Natural, Butch Reed, “It was the best opportunity any wrestler could have in front of a crowd that big.” Koko, who appeared each outing in bright garb and colorful sunglasses, did have a bird friend with him whenever he stepped into a ring, a macaw known as Frankie. Alas, Frankie perished in a house fire in 2001 while the Koko family was attending church.“McMahon liked the bird gimmick,” Koko smiles.

“He said, ‘Great, first we have a snake (Jack The Snake Roberts) and a bulldog (British Bulldogs). Now, we’ve got a bird. But it took off like a rocket.” And a footnote to Koko’s history in the ring: he became the first wrestler to fall victim to the Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver in his debut match, this occurring during the 1990 Survivor Series. Koko went on to form a tag team match with the late Owen Hart, known as High Energy.

The team was disbanded in 1993 following a knee injury to Hart. While wrestling does prove to be a viable tool for the ardent fans, Koko does harken to the realities of life and, in fact, does have one regret that has nothing to do with entertainment.“I wasn’t there for Chris Benoit at a time when he needed to talk to somebody.

God gave me the ability to wrestle, but I only wish I was there for him to discuss what he was going through,” he observes. Benoit, at the top of his wrestling profession, killed his wife and seven-year-old son in June of 2007 before committing suicide.“When that happened, it seriously hurt our wrestling family and most definitely the fans. I mean, we were in shock.

Chris was going through personal problems, but nobody could have foreseen this happening. I only wish I had the opportunity to talk to him. Pray for him. It hurt us all.”

 
     
     

 

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