The first professional wrestler I ever met was Gary “Lurch” Lindgren. He was known as the Blaster back then. His gimmick was based on a character from the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
He wrestled for the American Wrestling Association, which doesn’t exist any more. He was best known for knocking over the background wall on the Saturday morning TV-show All-Star Wrestling to surprise the announcer, Larry Nelson.
The Blaster was also known for a commercial he did for the Locker Room Bar in Superior. It’s called the Third Base Bar now. I remember from the commercial that the Locker Room served “Kirby Burgers,” and the Blaster could eat a dozen of them.
I noticed him in the audience of a World Wrestling Entertainment event. It was known as the World Wrestling Federation back then. Gary didn’t wrestle for the WWF, so he was in street clothes, leaving his “Blaster” attire at home.
When he wrestled, “The Blaster” wore black tights and had a black leather sheath that covered his entire right arm, all the way to the shoulder. When I met him he wore a polo shirt, baseball cap and gray pants.
My friends and I had pretty good seats on the main floor of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center that day. It was called the Duluth Arena back then. We asked the Blaster if he would pose with us for a photo, and he felt obliged.
We were only 14 years old, but two of us were nearly six feet tall. All three of us would be on Duluth’s city championship football team in the fall, but we looked like utter weaklings in the presence of “The Blaster.”
It didn’t help matters that I had braces and fluffy hair, and was wearing a red, nylon Plaza Dodge jacket. And Dave, well, he just didn’t start growing until high school. My braces are now long gone, Dave has a beard, and the old Plaza Dodge is an Italian restaurant.
The Blaster’s career turned out to be short-lived. I remember hearing a rumor that he had a brain aneurysm and suffered some kind of facial paralysis. After this photo was taken, we never saw him again — on TV or in person.