If you’ve been a wrestling fan for the past 34 years, chances are you have heard of or seen Tracy Smothers in action. Now living near Evansville, Indiana, the 54-year-old wrestler still laces up his boots and steps into the ring for a match every chance he gets.
“I don’t have to do this. It isn’t my job and I am not broke,” said Tracy Smothers. “I pass it on because it was passed on to me. It’s our business and it has to be handed down.”
When the sport was handed down to Smothers, he was fortunate in having the teachers that he did. When he started his career in 1983, his teachers were Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, otherwise known as The Fabulous Ones.
“They were the hottest tag team in the business when I was starting out,” said Smothers. “I would see them at the gym and they trained hard. They taught me how to get over with the fans and how to use the wrestling psychology.”
It wasn’t long after having several training sessions with the Fabulous Ones that Tracy started getting a new set of trainers, which were his opponents. Smothers found himself in the ring against the likes of such superstars as Dick Slater, Bob Orton Jr., Dick Murdoch, Bobby Eaton, Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, and Bill Dundee.
“How could you not learn from a list of guys like that who had paved the way for so many wrestlers? They were phenomenal” said Smothers. “They don’t make guys like that anymore. I was lucky enough to get into the ring and have a chance to learn from the likes of those guys.”
Not only has he wrestled with some of the very best that has ever stepped into the ring, but he has also wrestled in some of the top promotions in the United States as well. Some of the ones that might be more recognized by many who are familiar with the sport have been USWA, Mid South, Memphis, Florida Championship Wrestling, Continental, Smokey Mountain, WCW, ECW, and WWF. Smothers has held numerous amount of titles in both singles and tag team competitions in almost every place he has wrestled.
“I can’t tell you what my favorite promotion was. I liked them all,” said Smothers. “I had a blast at every single one of them.”
Not only has Tracy wrestled in just about every place in the United States, but he has also been all over the world too. Smothers has competed in countries such as Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, and Mexico. All that experience has just added to his wealth of knowledge.
“Wrestling gets in your blood. I have gotten to travel to so many different places,” said Smothers. “I would have never been able to do that doing something else.”
By the time that Smothers had gotten to Extreme Championship Wrestling, he already had been wrestling for nearly 15 years. He wrestled with the faction, The Full Blooded Italians, along with Little Guido, Big Sal, and manager, legendary wrestler Tommy Rich. They knew how to work together as a team, take advantage of their opponents, and infuriate the fans. Additionally, while he wrestled at ECW, Smothers trained the young and newer talent as well.
“By that time, I had seen it all and done it all,” said Smothers. “If I’m not teaching guys in seminars, I am teaching them right there in the ring in front of people during a match. It is on-the-job training.”
Smothers and Rich have known each other since 1983. The one time NWA World Heavyweight Champion was like an encyclopedia to Tracy in which he was able to learn. The two men had wrestled with and against each other many times. With Tommy being a veteran of the business, some of his finer points were his psychology for the sport of wrestling. He knew when to do things, how to adlib, and how to sell.
“When you tell guys to slow down for just a bit, it means a lot. You need to let things register so the people can enjoy what just happened,” said Smothers. “You need to show the fans your emotions of being mad, glad, happy, or sad. The wrestler needs to show the fan that whatever just happened is affecting them.”
When Smothers was in his mid 30’s and tagging with Guido, he made sure he was doing everything that he could to prepare himself for the intense style of action there. Since he wanted to perform at such a high level, Tracy took his training very seriously. At that time, there was nothing like ECW. It was a wrestling promotion that changed the business.
“A lot of people think it was because of the hardcore style of wrestling, but it was because of all the talented people that came through there,” said Smothers. “I did weights one day and the other days, I worked out with a boxer, a kickboxer, and a basketball player because the conditioning was so different. I wanted to do what I could to keep up with the younger guys.”
In 2000, Smothers had another chance to teach and pass on the sport that he loves. This time, it was for the WWF developmental league, Memphis Championship Wrestling. He trained there for a year. They had a building, a ring, a tape library, and a live weekly television program.
“We would show them what the WWF wanted and we could go hours into the day,” said Smother. “It was something else.”
Currently, Smothers can be found working on the independent wrestling circuit. Smothers still gets a rush from hearing the cheers and jeers from the crowd. When he is not wrestling, he can easily put on anywhere from two to four wrestling seminars a month for different promotions throughout the country. If a young wrestler is ever in the dressing room with him, there’s a good chance that Smothers will try to teach him a little of what he has learned over the past three decades of his wrestling career.
“I kind of found myself in the role of being somewhat of an agent. I like critiquing the guys on their matches,” said Smothers. “For the most part, they are perceptive. I am trying to teach the guys how they can do it better and safer.”
FUN FACTS ABOUT TRACY SMOTHERS
Favorite wrestler: Chris Candido
Career highlight: 1990 Great American with Steve Armstrong against the Midnight Express.
Favorite band: Guns and Roses
Favorite sports team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Dog or cat person: Both, but I have four dogs right now.
A state that you have never been to: I have been to all of them.
Favorite food: Peanut butter, hamburgers, and steaks.
A movie that you have seen multiple times: The Outlaw Josey Wales
Favorite actors: Clint Eastwood and Nick Nolte.
Favorite color: Red
Links to matches with Tracy Smothers appearing.
The Southern Boys vs the Midnight Express. (Not from the 1990 American Bash)
Tracy Smother vs The Dirty White Boy (Chain Match)
Tracy Smothers vs New Jack