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John “JBL” Layfield and Gerald Brisco recently launched an episode of their podcast, “Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw,” featuring Len Denton, best known for his work under the guise of The Grappler. Since Denton had been a longtime friend of the late WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper, their relationship was a natural topic of discussion. One aspect of their friendship that emerged was the disaster of an auto repair shop they opened together in Portland, Oregon in 1990.

“JBL, that’s how dumb I was,” Denton explained. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m The Grappler, and everyone knows me in town, and Piper, they know him more than I do. Hell, bro, we’re going to have clients running down doors, right? Go in there and talk wrestling; they weren’t buying us shit. Everybody asked me about my last match I had on TV. So I guess[d] out hire guys [to do the repairs because] I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m being robbed blindly, so I had to educate myself.”

Fighting at night and working in the shop during the day, Denton hired someone to teach him how to build transmissions over the course of two years. That helped turn the business around to the point that Denton eventually sold it for around $200,000. However, in the early days, Piper had to get creative to figure out how to generate new clients. “Talk to Vince [McMahon] and get a free commercial on [the Portland version] on Vince’s show,” Denton said. “Why he did this, I don’t know. [but in the commercial, he said], ‘If you can body slam The Grappler, your broadcast job is free.’ I called him within a week and said, ‘I’ve got morons lined up here who want to beat me up.

If you want to hear more of Denton’s stories, he has a memoir, “Grappler: Memories of a Masked Madman,” which features a trailer for Piper.