Wrestling legend Terry Funk wrestled his last live TV match in, of all places, Augusta County

Wrestling legend Terry Funk wrestled his last live TV match in, of all places, Augusta County

Chris Graham
terry funk
Photo Illustration: Chris Graham/AFP

Pro wrestling legend Terry Funk, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 79, had his last live TV match, as it turns out, at Augusta Expo in Fishersville, at the 2011 “Night of the Legends” pay-per-view.

Funk, who held the NWA world heavyweight title from 1975-1977, wrestled on the pay-per-view against his protégé, Tommy Dreamer.

I was the lucky one who got to sit down with Funk ahead of the show to film two promo segments that were used by the promotion, Awesome Wrestling Entertainment, to help sell the event, which featured other top stars including the likes of Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

We filmed segments with all of the stars on the card at a spot show up I-81 in Woodstock a month before the pay-per-view that was booked to be a sort of dry run for what was going to be done for the live TV audience.

Funk, by this point, was very much at the twilight of his storied 50-year career. After his match at “Night of the Legends,” he would go on to wrestle just six more times, the last time in 2017, a six-man match in which he would team with The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to defeat Jerry “The King” Lawler, Doug Gilbert and Brian Christopher at a BTW show in Spartanburg, S.C.

We wouldn’t have known that then.

I had the fortune back in 2011, which seems like a lifetime ago, of being able to work with the head booker of AWE, a guy named Marvin Ward, to help put together the card for the pay-per-view.

Funk vs. Dreamer was a natural, when it became obvious that both would be available to work the show, because the two had been teased for a money match in ECW in the late 1990s, but the pay-off to their feud never came off because of an injury to Funk.

As it played out, a referee botch on our “Night of the Legends” show – the ref mistakenly thought he got the “go-home” signal and counted a quick three on a roll-up pin attempt by Dreamer at the 6:55 mark – left us all less than satisfied, but that’s neither here nor there.

Funk, the consummate pro, instinctively realized that he needed to do something to keep the TV show on its timing, since we had told Funk and Dreamer ahead of the match that we were giving them 20 minutes, so he attacked the ref, putting him down with a piledriver, then grabbed and tossed several chairs from ringside into the ring, eating up a few of the minutes.

That all came after the sitdown in the nurses’ room off the central office at the high school in Woodstock a month before.

My job, in addition to holding the camera and pushing the record button, was also supposed to have me working with the wrestlers on their promos, as if I was going to give the likes of Duggan, DDP, Nash and especially Terry Funk any kind of insight into what they should say.

I was smart enough to know to just let them work their magic.

Funk was, predictably, magic.

We needed two promos from him.

As we prepped for the first, he was downing a burger from the concession stand.

He thought for a minute.

“You know, I picked this up, it wasn’t McDonald’s, but I got it in Fishersville, Va., and, dadgum burger don’t taste too good, but I’ll tell you what, they’re gonna have some great wrestling here,” he started, gesturing with the burger in his hand.

“I said, Alright, guys, I’m gonna come down, and I’m gonna wrestle. You know, I said, find me somebody that really isn’t worth a damn to put me in the ring with, you know, somebody that’s not too powerful, somebody that’s not a great superstar or anything.

“I got the guy in the back of my mind. Let’s see, what’s his name, what’s his name? Hey, put me in the ring with Tommy Dreamer,” he said, pausing for emphasis.

“I remember him, whenever he was sweeping out the showers and sweeping out the hallways in ECW and taking down the ring. I remember ol’ Tommy. Yeah, never was too sharp, too smart, but he always wanted to be a wrestler. I want to give him a chance to, that’s for doggone sure. I want to get him in the ring and teach that boy some lessons.”

Keep in mind, Funk and Dreamer have been friends for going on 20 years at this point.

The next promo was just as good.

“I got to thinking about, you know, Terry Funk, you think that you could honestly go back into the ring again? Well, I thought about that. I thought about that. You know, I thought about my age, and they say you’re as old as you feel, and I feel 105 right now,” Funk said. “But dadgummit, I thought about it, and you’re as old as you feel, that’s for sure, but they say the older you get, the meaner you get, and I’m getting pretty dadgum mean. So, I think I’m gonna just come back down to Fishersville, and I’d love to step back into the ring.

“Maybe not with Diamond Dallas Page. Maybe not with Kevin Nash. I mean, those boys are pretty big boys. Or maybe not Hacksaw Jim Duggan. You know, I need somebody that’s kind of kind of crappy to get in the ring with. And I was kind of thinking that’d be …”

Wait for it.

“Tommy Dreamer.”

Master class in session.

“You know, I knew him whenever he was sweeping out the dressing rooms in ECW years ago. I’d love to get in the ring with a guy about the caliber of that Tommy Dreamer. That’s who I want to get in there. I think I could still whip ol’ Tommy, you know, I think I could still crick him. You know, he never did to have too many brains. Well, anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing y’all there, and hope you all pick up on it and make it a success.”

Rest in peace, Funker.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP.