By Mike Mooneyham
June 2, 2001
Brian James, whose promising career in the wrestling business has been plagued by substance abuse problems, continued his downward spiral at an independent show May 26 at Conway High School.
James, better known to wrestling fans as “Road Dogg” Jesse James and Brian Armstrong, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after using excessive profanity at the show and resisting attempts by fellow wrestlers, workers and officers to calm him down. He had been booked to appear in the main event of the NWA card against The Barbarian.
James, 31, the youngest son of the famous Armstrong wrestling family that includes father “Bullet” Bob and brothers Brad, Steve and Scott, was released by the World Wrestling Federation earlier this year, several days after coming to a show in no condition to wrestle and telling company official Bruce Pritchard that he was having problems at home, in the midst of a messy divorce, and wanted to take time off from the business. James subsequently was suspended indefinitely and later received his termination notice, but officials didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing him back “when he got his personal life in order.”
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]James was a three-time WWF tag-team titleholder with Billy Gunn as The New Age Outlaws and also held the Intercontinental and hard-core titles during his WWF run.
Witnesses at the Conway show say Armstrong was signing autographs and taking Polaroids during intermission when be became belligerent after being asked to leave the ring. Intermission had already lasted more than 30 minutes, with the line still long and two main events remaining. James reportedly became irate when an official with the show asked him to sign autographs and take pictures in another part of the building to allow the final matches to come on. One source, however, said James was in no condition to take Polaroids with the fans.
James began spewing non-scripted obscenities in front of a crowd estimated to be in the 600 range, many of whom were teen-agers and younger children. “He was acting like a total jerk,” said one fan. “It was a good show until that point. He was cussing at the officials, screaming with kids standing right there. He said, `We’ll see just how interesting this next match will be.'”
James started taking pictures in a corner of the high school gym, where about 200 fans congregated, causing more distractions and drawing attention away from the action in the ring.
According to reports, police asked James to go outside the gym where he could calm down, and James kicked the door open and stormed out of the building. “By then the cops started getting a little frustrated with him,” said a fan. “His brother, Scott, went out with him. It wasn’t working.”
Arn Anderson, a longtime friend who also was on the show, followed him outside the gym but was unable to cool him off.
“Arn Anderson went out and told him that the fans paid their hard-earned money and wanted a good show. I heard he took a swing at Arn. That’s when they locked him up.”
James was held for about an hour until bond was posted and officers were confident he was calm enough to leave.[ad#MikeMooneyham-468×15]
“I don’t think he had any intentions of wrestling,” said Conway High School baseball coach Jody Jenrette. “I guess when he got here to the beach and it was Biker Weekend …”
Jenrette said James was paid a thousand dollars in advance for the show in addition to the photos he was selling. “He could have made at least fifteen hundred dollars for three hours work. He would have sold at least a hundred pictures had he waited until after the show.”
The main event between James and The Barbarian had to be quickly changed one match before the bout was to take place. James no-showed a recent paid show at a casino in Biloxi, Miss., where he had been scheduled to headline against Jerry Lawler.
“He’s normally a great guy” said Jenrette. “I talked with him before the show. It’s just that he apparently can’t control his habits.”
Jenrette said the promotion worked hard to make the show a success despite the incident with James.
“(Promoter) Rikki Nelson handled it very professionally,” said Jenrette. “He handled it like a champ. He did a spiel about how hard he had worked in his career and never had anything handed to him. They’re trying to get back to the grassroots wrestling where everything is clean-cut. Then this guy (James) comes out and starts cussing and going crazy. He just acted like a total jerk.”
Jenrette said he believes the crowd will mushroom to more than a thousand if the promotion returns every month or two.
“I was impressed. It was like clockwork. We’d be glad for them to come back. This place loves it down here.”