Cody Monk's pro wrestling column (Oct. 29) THE SHAKEDOWN: The WWF's protector doesn't like to get physical
By Cody Monk / Special Contributor to dallasnews.com
Monk appears on The Ender with Mark Followill and Doug Anderson on KTCK 1310 AM "The Ticket" every Monday at 10:35 p.m.
Jim Dotson, the WWF's director of protective services since 1996, stirred his coffee and took a quick sip before cracking a big smile.
He knew the question was coming. Finding a different way to answer it was the challenge.
"I don't get involved physically," Dotson responded. "That's the simple answer."
That's why Dotson doesn't get in the ring. His physical stature, however, suggests he should be wrestling the federation's top stars, not protecting them.
At 6-0 and a chiseled 260 pounds, the former Mr. Tennessee is an imposing presence at live WWF events. Dotson is highly visible at WWF events. He's the large man with the strange hat leading wrestlers through the crowds and making sure nothing or no one in the audience interferes with them. Dotson, 34, has been hit with so many beer cups he can almost name the brand on contact. He's been pelted with food and all sorts of other objects. Most of the time, WWF fans are well behaved, Dotson said. At times, though, he has had to draw the line between the audience having fun and protecting a wrestler.
"In our business, the last thing you want to do is get physical," Dotson said. "That's a last resort. But I have had physical confrontations before."
Dotson is a full-time WWF employee who worked 300 shows in 1998. Before coming to the WWF, he owned his own protective services company in Nashville, where he still lives.
Growing up in Nashville, where he went to a private Christian school from kindergarten through his senior year, Dotson was a passive wrestling fan. He got turned on to the business in earnest while playing linebacker at Middle Tennessee State.
"I was in a bar one night during school," said Dotson, whose nickname is "Big Jim." "I was about 225 (pounds) at the time, and I really thought I was bringing it. A guy came up to me and asked me if I wanted to work the Hank Williams Jr. concert. I said, 'Sure.' The next day I was in front of 20,000 people."
The one-time job led to providing security at wrestling events in Nashville after Dotson finished school. During this time, he met Mark Callaway, who was about to sign with the WWF and become The Undertaker.
Dotson and Callaway became close friends and kept in contact even after Callaway moved on. When WWF owner Vince McMahon began having security concerns at events in late 1995, Callaway said he knew a person who could help.
"I was working with my company in Nashville when (Callaway) called one day," said Dotson, who travels from show to show with Callaway. "I flew up there, and Vince told me he was having some security problems. I told him I was the answer to those problems."
Dotson, however, remains a mystery to those who see him. With his size, strength and background, why not jump in the ring?
"I'd by lying if I said I haven't thought about it," Dotson said. "But, I'm here to do a job. I'm not in this business because I have a big ego or because I want the recognition. I get recognized plenty by the fans. But mostly it's with strange looks and people saying 'Who's that guy with the hat? I've seen him before.'"
Chances are you have, but not in the ring.
Thanks to Caitlin for allowing me to use this photo! :)
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