BARRY O & MOONDOG SPOT
Written by Mike Rickard
They may not have been a team spoken of amongst the greats of the Second Golden Age of Tag Team Wrestling, but the enhancement team of Barry O and Moondog Spot provided exciting matches for the fans as they did the J-O-B for some of the WWF’s best workers. Join me now as Tag Team Appreciation Month looks at the short but memorable career of Barry O and Moondog Spot, a team that opened my eyes to how workrate can enhance a match.
Barry O is the brother of “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. and the son of Bob Orton Sr. (and uncle to Randy Orton for those wrestling genealogists keeping track). While he didn’t rise to the same level of fame as his relatives, he was a skilled technical wrestler, capable of making opponents look good.
Long-time WWF fans likely remember that he wrestled as Barry Orton, but the WWF eventually changed his last name to O. Barry’s biggest claim to fame in the WWF was arguably the night he got into a kayfabe altercation with color commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura in Madison Square Garden. On October 21, 1985, Barry O and “Iron” Mike Sharpe were battling Mike Rotundo and Tony Atlas when Atlas threw Barry onto Ventura. Ventura got into a shouting match with the upstart, leading to a bout the next month at Madison Square Garden where Ventura prevailed.
Barry O had talent (along with a killer mullet), but he never broke through from the WWF’s preliminary ranks. According to Orton, his first love was music, something he feels led tohis lack of passion in the squared circle:
"I was always struggling because I wanted to be a musician," he confessed. "I never saw myself as a professional wrestler. I was into the performance end, but I didn't live the lifestyle. I wasn't about being in the gym six hours a day. I was about being a rock star. Where I was gifted in the ring, I didn't do all the things you were supposed to do. And because of the fact that I didn't work out, I didn't have the looks or the body and I didn't get the opportunity which hence frustrated me and made me continue to believe I was not worthy. I would turn to drugs and alcohol to escape and medicate."
Moondog Spot (a/k/a Larry Booker) began wrestling in the mid-1970’s teaming with Wayne Ferris (a/k/a The Honky Tonk Man) as Larry Latham to form the Blond Bombers. The twow ould have their Tupelo Concession Match with Jerry “The King” Lawler and “Superstar” Bill Dundee, a bout that became the stuff of legend. However, bigger things were in store for Booker, and he transformed into Moondog Spot, a grizzly-looking ma dman dressed in blue jeans with arawhide bone conveniently stationed at ringside to bludgeon opponents with. Spot teamed with Moondog Rex, after Moondogs Rex and King won the WWF Tag Team Championship and travel issues prevented King from returning to the U.S. Spot took his place in the Moondogs,defending the belts alongside Rex.
At the time, the WWF had so much talent that they often formed enhancement tag teams from former stars. In this case, Moondog Spot provided a reputation as a former tag team champion and a known brawler. Barry O was enhancement talent, but he won enough matches against other enhancement talent that he was somewhere between a squash guy and a jobber to the stars. Thus, when teams like Barry O and Moondog Spot formed, there was always that possibility they could prove the adage, “on any given day.” Of course, this being professional wrestling, their job was to make opponents look good.
The Barry O and Moondog Spot team did not last long, but they are etched in my memory from a match they had against Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid, arguably thebest tag team in the WWF during the Second Golden Age of Tag Team Wrestling. The match came to my attention after my brother Dave told me he’d watched one of the best matches he’d ever seen. This was at a time when I had no concept of workrate and thought all matches involving Superstars vs. enhancement guys were created equally.
Living on the Canadian border, we were lucky enough to get two additional WWF programs—Maple Leaf Wrestling and another highlight show that I believe aired from Hamilton. The highlight show usually featured an undercard from Maple Leaf Gardens and according to a search on Graham Cawthon’s History of the WWE site, the match took place at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens on April 21, 1985. There, the two teams battled for 16:31 when Barry O counted the lights for the Dynamite Kid.
Thanks to the power of the video cassette recorder (I taped every WWF show on the air at the time, but sadly, don’t have any of the tapes anymore), I got to watch the show and I was impressed by how entertaining the match was. Naturally, the Bulldogs were fantastic workers, but when paired against Barry O and Moondog Spot, the match was even better. It was action-packed and full of excitement, so much it even had me wondering whether Barry and Moondog might pull off the impossible and defeat the WWF’s number one babyface team at the time. While the Bulldogs got the duke, the match changed my perception of wrestling. This was the night I realized there was more to a wrestling match than just throwing in two big names to plod through a bout. I discovered that you could enjoy a match based on the athleticism inside the ring, regardless of who was competing.
Barry O and Moondog Spot did not compete together long as a team, but both men found themselves teaming with other enhancement talents to put over opponents and make them look good. Coincidentally, Barry O teamed with Moondog Rex the following year to take on The British Bulldogs on one of the WWF’s many syndicated shows. The team of Barry O and Moondog Spot were no team for the ages, but they were an example of the sheer amount of talent working in the WWF during the Rock-n-Wrestling Era. Now if I could only find that match... I’d have a terrific trip down memory lane!
Cawthon, Graham. History of the WWE. “1985”. Accessed 18 May 2018.
Krieser, Jamie. “Barry O breaks his silence.” SLAM! Sports. SLAM! Wrestling. 18 May 2018. Accessed 18 May 2018.
Dilbert, Ryan. “Forgotten Members of Famous WWE Families: Barry Orton.” Bleacher Report. WWE. 3 Sept. 2015. Accessed 18 May 2018.
Rickard, Mike. “Moondog Spot Death.” Ten Bell Salute. 17 Oct. 2017. Accessed 18 May 2018.