PHYLLIS LEE–REST IN PEACE. A LOVING TRIBUTE BY BRIAN “BLUE MEANIE ” HEFFRON

Posted January 20th, 2015 by 1Wrestling News Team

Ladies and Gentleman. My name is Brian Heffron and I am here to tell you that I am……a Phyllis Lee Guy. Yes I am Brian Heffron. Yes I am The Blue Meanie. Yes I was trained by the man who went on to not only be my trainer but my big brother and best friend in Al Snow. Yes I have been wrestling for the better part of 20 going on 21 years. Yes I got to wrestle for ECW during their hottest period. Yes I got to be a part of ECW’s best known factions in the BLUE World Order. Yes I got to wrestle in the WWE during the Attitude Era. Yes I got to be in a WrestleMania. Yes I am one of the coaches at the WORLD FAMOUS Monster Factory. Yes I got to do SO MANY great and wonderful things in the wrestling business. BUT…….BUT…..there is no way I get to do these things if not for the help, guidance and love of Phyllis Lee.

Unfortunately the world lost Phyllis January 18, 2015 on a Sunday afternoon from a severe case of pneumonia. Her family has told me that her last days were peaceful. Though her last days were peaceful it’s still hard to fathom how many lives may have been if not for this wonderful woman. Phyllis Lee in many ways has been an unsung hero to many in the world of professional wrestling. Phyllis who was a tough female wrestler went onto work closely with Boris Malenko and his wrestling camp in Florida. She went on to help and guide many aspiring wrestlers and seasoned wrestlers who needed advice over the past several decades. She even made the cross over to MMA to advice and guide several Mix Martial Artists. Wrestlers and MMA fighters she has helped like Sean Waltman, Bobby Blaze, Willie Wilkins, Scott Levy, Al Snow, Sabu,
Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt, Carlos Condit, Ron Waterman, Geza Kalman, Dan Severn and myself. That is just a small percentage of people she has helped. To those names I missed I apologize.

I grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. I NEEDED to be a professional wrestler. All my life I watched wrestling. Lived wrestling. Breathed wrestling. Ate wrestling. I was wrestling junkie. I would scour the tv dial for ANYTHING pro wrestling. Anything from WWF. To NWA.To AWA. To World Class. To UWF. I even found and watch pro wrestling from Hawaii in Polynesian Pro Wrestling. I bought all the magazines. Later I would add on to Dave Meltzer’s “Wrestling Observer” and Wade Keller’s “Pro Wrestling Torch” News Letters. It’s in that era I started learning and finding the world of pro wrestling schools. I mean I KNEW of The Monster Factory an hour away in New Jersey but I wasn’t well informed in anything other than there.

Through Dave Meltzer I learned of of A) The Monster Factory try outs and B) Boris Malenko had a wrestling school. To be honest those would have been my choices. I tried out at the Monster Factory the day after WrestleMania 8 and was put through the try out by none other Glenn Ruth of the Headbangers. Larry Sharpe and legendary New Jersey promoter Dennis Coraluzzo oversaw the tryouts as well. I would have loved to gone to the Monster Factory. How could I not? They produced (and still do) some of the best BIG men in the business. Guys from King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow were his best know “Big Men” at that time and being a big guy myself that would be the obvious choice. After the try out Larry Sharpe brought myself and only 2 others of the 8-9 people that tried out. Larry went over all the particulars of what would entail training there. We shook hands and I went home seriously considering going to The Monster Factory.

Now there was also the Malenko wrestling school based out of Tampa, Florida. I had recently discovered Joe and Dean Malenko through tape trading and saw a spectacular match they had with one of my ALL TIME favorite tag teams in The British Bulldogs from All Japan Pro Wrestling. Through the Observer Newsletter I got the mailing address for the Malenko school and sent off a letter asking for whatever info they could give me. Now just as much as Bam Bam Bigelow was a factor in me possibly choosing The Monster Factory. I considered the Malenko camp because of my admiration of not only Joe and Dean Malenko but I also know that’s where The Lightening Kid (Sean Waltman) had trained. I had become a HUGE fan of Sean’s work through his work in The Global Wrestling Federation and again through tape trading. I loved his matches with Jerry Lynn, in Minnesota with Sabu and strong style match I saw him have with Willie Wilkins (Beef Wellington).

I sent out a letter of inquiry to the Malenko school and with in a month to a month and a half I get a letter from……….W. Unity, Ohio? Who do I know in WEST Unity Ohio?! The name above the address written in beautifully written script read Phyllis Lee. Who is Phyllis Lee? I opened the letter to read a letter from Phyllis telling me that the Malekno’s had received my letter and had her correspond with me. The letter put 2 and 2 together on why someone from Ohio was corresponding with a kid who sent a letter of inquiry from New Jersey to Tampa, Florida as she told me she worked with the Malenko’s for a VERY LONG time.

This was 1993 with month unknown but I do remember Phyllis and I corresponding via letter a lot. This was before the days before email, text, Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. In this day and age if you wanted to talk to someone you had to pick up a phone and call or hand write your thoughts to paper, buy an envelope, buy a stamp (which were 24 cents at THAT time) put the letter IN the envelope, WALK to a mailbox and drop the letter in. Phyllis talked to me about the cost of Malenko’s camp, the cost of living in Tampa and all the students that had gone through there. She would talk GLOWINGLY of Sean Waltman and you could tell how proud she had been of him. Very motherly in a way. It was in the way I heard her not only talk about the wrestlers at Malenko’s but the way she seemed to genuinely care about the wrestlers that sold me on going to Tampa.

So I worked and worked and worked at a job as a security guard at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Thankfully my grandparents who had raised me along with my mother allowed me to save and save and save all the money I needed to for not only the tuition for wrestling school but seed money for living expenses once I got moved and got settled in. Phyllis and I had gone from writing to talking on the phone. If her letters had come across as warm and motherly then talking to her on the phone was even more so. We talked about life. We talked about family. We talked about wrestling. I learned so much from simply talking to Phyllis on the phone that I felt like I had a mental jump start for wrestling before I put in mile one and took my first bump in the ring.

If the Makeno school was going to be my wrestling school then Phyllis Lee was my preparatory school teacher. She was knowledgeable and more importantly brutally honest. As time went on she started pushing for me to get the ball rolling. Crap or get off the pot so to speak. I had already sent her my tuition for Malenko’s and if I was going to do this I had to SOON. Every call started with “So when are you leaving?”. “I know. I know” would be my retort. I wanted to be a wrestler. I know wanted to go to the Great Malenko’s wrestling school. The one thing that kept me stutter stepping out the door to follow through was the then cost of living down in Tampa. I was fairly young and wasn’t wise to what was/wasn’t reasonable to rent a place to live but at that time and for what it cost to live in what was essentially a efficiency seemed like a lot.

To put it into perspective I now live in a 3 bedroom house and the rent for my house is only a few dollars more then what they wanted for a broom closet in Tampa. I addressed this as a concern to Phyllis and she understood. To Phyllis’ credit she gave it much thought and helped come up with an alternative. This is how awesome Phyllis Lee is. I was 19 when she started talking to me. I was 20 when I sent her THOUSANDS of dollars to pursue my dream of being a professional wrestler. Here I was talking about my concern about moving because of the cost of living. Some people would have kept my money and told me to take off or kept my money and totally no sold me and left me hanging.

Phyllis Lee didn’t. Phyllis was an honest and trusting person. Phyllis had MY best interest at heart. So knowing my concerns Phyllis came back to me and said “Well there’s Al Snow’s school here in Ohio….”. Those words were not only SO out of no where but in hind site would turn out to be one of the best decision I would ultimately make. She told me Al Snow had a school in Lima, Ohio. Al’s school was the same price as Malenko’s but not only was the cost of living a fraction of what it was in Tampa but I could live IN the actual school in Lima. Plus, I could finally get to meet Phyllis who I had only known through email and phone calls.

At that time I had sparingly heard of Al through reading the newsletters and reading results. At the time his feud with Sabu had started heating up. Having only heard Al Snow’s name and having Phyllis endorse Al. I had never seen Al wrestle nor did I know anyone who he had trained at that time. I knew the Monster Factory because of guys like King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow. I knew the Malenko school because of Joe and Dean Malenko and Sean Waltman. I knew who they were and what wrestler produced.

Today ironically I am a coach at the same Monster Factory I tried out at in Paulsboro, NJ. The now owner Danny Cage asked me “why didn’t you train at the Monster Factory?”. Which is a great question. I lived in NJ. I lived an hour away. Why not? It has nothing to do with what I saw and experienced at The Monster Factory that was the deciding factor of going elsewhere. It was the fact that I really need to fly away from the nest. If I had stayed in NJ and trained NJ. Once my mother and grandmother would have seen the bruises. Seen the lumps. Heard my moans of pain. They would have tried their hardest to get me to quit. I was their blond haired, blue eyed baby boy. In hind site I was leaving my actual mom and grand mom who didn’t under stand wrestling and pursuing my dream under the guidance of the woman who essentially became my wrestling mom. A “mom” who understood and knew the wrestling business.

On the word of a woman who I had never met. A woman I had only talked to through letter and email. A woman I trustingly sent thousands of dollars. A woman who did not take advantage of my naivety like most others would. On the word of Phyllis Lee I chose to go to Al Snow’s Bodyslammer’s Wrestling Gym in Lima, Ohio. On March 4, 1994 I walked with my mother as we walked to work at the casinos. On the corner of Morris and Arctic Avenue I had the epiphany to turn to mom and say. “I have to start wrestling. I’m gonna leave in 2 weeks”. I later told my grandparents and then put in my 2 weeks notice at work. On Monday morning March 21, 1994. The day after Wrestlemania 10 I drove from Atlantic City, NJ to Lima, Ohio. All on the blind faith I put into Phyllis Lee.

Once I met Phyllis that blind faith I put into Phyllis simply became “FAITH”. I would not have made it if not for Phyllis Lee. As many wrestler’s would tell you they owe THEIR careers and success to Phyllis Lee. All those letters, all those phone calls, all those countless car rides, all those countless shows I did with Al Snow and Phyllis would turn out to be a huge learning experience and worth their weight in not only gold….but platinum. Thank you Phyllis Lee. I love you. I will miss you. And like most others. I owe you.

Rest In Peace,
Brian
aka
A Phyllis Lee Guy

Category: Wrestling.

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