By Bobby Jones, Capital Flyer staff photojournalist
/ Published December 05, 2008
ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- Does the phrase, "Whatcha gonna do brotha, when the 24-inch pythons and Hulkamania run wild on you?" ring a bell? Or how about, "Can you smell what the Rock is cookin'?"
For most red-blooded World Wrestling Entertainment fans, these buzz phrases are synonymous with WWE professional wrestlers, Hulk Hogan and The Rock, who have since gone on to movie and television careers.
OK professional wrestling enthusiasts, one more query; remember this antagonistic introduction?, "Say hello to 185-pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal." No? Well this is where Master Sgt. Daniel Beverly, 316th Force Support Squadron first sergeant and former heavyweight wrestling champion, is introduced. Sergeant Beverly is a former titleholder of the now defunct American Wrestling Association Mississippi Heavy Weight Championship, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious championships in professional wrestling history.
Back in his heyday, when he traveled from city to city, Sergeant Beverly was better known as the "Midnight Rocker;" a bodacious personality on the professional wrestling circuit. Then, a technical sergeant, his alter ego's roadside skills served as a road map to fame and admiration with a bevy of adoring fans who followed him along the southern and eastern coast. He maintained this persona all the while keeping his military bearing and serving as a role model to his young Airmen.
Sergeant Beverly didn't make his debut into the gritty world of wrestling, at the time still in its infancy, until the early 1990s.
"I had been a fan since I was a teenager in the early 80's," said Master Sgt. Beverly. Being a professional wrestler was always something that he had dreamed about, but never expected to come into fruition.
In Jan of 1996, after transferring to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. a year earlier, he was watching one of the Monday night wrestling shows, then called the WWF and WCW, when a commercial came on advertising a wrestling school the area. He went the next day to check it out, and the following day, he signed up. At the age of 30, Sergeant Beverly trained for three months before performing his first show.
"I learned how to do the moves and how to take bumps and also the psychology involved," said Sergeant Beverly.
"I was a rookie weighing about 150 pounds. Since I was small as professional wrestlers go, I trained in the Mexican style of wrestling called Lucha Libre; a high-flying acrobatic style. We would incorporate tables and other objects into the show," the sergeant added.
As Sergeant Beverly began stringing his moves together, he realized that wrestling was like a tale. "The industry promoted us by having the sport tell a story; similar to a soap opera," said Sergeant Beverly.
As time went on Sergeant Beverly began to realize his dream as he honed his skills in the ring. He also quickly realized the promotion aspect of the business as well.
"You could be a good wrestler, but if you had a silent crowd, it was the kiss of death," said Sergeant Beverly. "I had to learn how to work the crowd as well as the ring, because if I was able to get the crowd involved -- riled up and agitated -- then I was able to find more work," said Sergeant Beverly.
After learning how to feel out the crowd, Sergeant Beverly realized he had a talent for motivating them by getting under their skin. Consequently, he became a double asset, because promoters were always looking for good ring workers with valuable wrestling skills.
Sergeant Beverly would also market his "baby face" persona as a gimmick to gather a particular following. "I've been both a baby face good guy and a heel bad guy," said Sergeant Beverly. "As the bad guy, I pull the crowd in by talking badly to them. My usual routine was to walk down the ramp with my theme music blaring in the background; acting arrogant. "I would say something like, "Why do I have to come to a town that has to provide daycare at the senior prom?'" said Sergeant Beverly. He would further antagonize them by warning them if they didn't shut up and stop booing he was going to leave. That prompted cheers, followed by a rousing chant of, "na na na, na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!"
Sergeant Beverly has performed shows as far west as New Orleans, La. and as far east as Florida. He also wrestled on the northern Mississippi and Alabama circuits. "I did television for some time as a referee on a Fox affiliate station in Gulf Port," Sergeant Beverly. The half-hour show aired on Saturday mornings about ten years ago. "That show was a lot of fun," Sergeant Beverly exclaimed.
"As far as injuries go; I've had numerous. Everything from lacerations to broken bones. In order to do this I had to get permission first and fill out off-duty work forms and high-risk briefings. In fact, it was because of me that professional wrestling got added to the high-risk activity list at Keesler," added Sergeant Beverly. "So when they started getting injury reports with my name on it from wrestling matches they decided to add wrestling to the list. One thing that I can say is that I never missed any duty time because of an injury," said Sergeant Beverly.
Sergeant Beverly completed his career as a wrestler shortly before coming to Andrews.
Here, he found that sharing wrestling experiences proved to give him an edge in mentoring Airmen. One evening while visiting an Airmen's home to provide counseling, Sergeant Beverly lightened an emotional situation by talking about his past experiences and by performing a few unique moves.
Not unlike his past career as wrestler, Sergeant Beverly always seems to captivate the masses. Whether by having a one-on-one session with an Airman or using his commanding voice to instill pride during a monthly promotion ceremony, the former celebrity sergeant has a knack for attraction.
When asked if he would ever go back to professional wrestling, Sergeant Beverly answered, "It's not high on my priority list. When I came to Andrews I got my line number for master sergeant and later achieved my top goal of becoming first sergeant. I was a professional wrestler for eight years, held titles, traveled and had a good run," said Sergeant Beverly.
One would never guess his past by looking at him. But if a fan was in search of some good stories about Sergeant Beverly's former wrestling years, he would need to be prepared for some exciting and most entertaining tales.