How This Pro Wrestler/Drama Teacher From the DMV Became a “Wheel of Fortune” Meme
A sneak attack from Pat Sajak has something to do with Fred Fletcher-Jackson's newfound fame
If you’re a DMV wrestling fan, you might have seen the wrestler known as the “Purple Parrot” at an independent show. If you’re a DMV drama appreciator, you might have seen Fred Fletcher-Jackson in a black-box theater. If you’re a DMV trivia player, Fletcher-Jackson may have been your host. And if you’re a Maryland high school student with a penchant for the arts, Mr. Fletcher-Jackson may well have been your drama teacher.
All that said, if you’re familiar with Fred Fletcher-Jackson, it’s probably because you’re a Wheel of Fortune fan. Fletcher-Jackson performed a clean sweep in his first appearance earlier this year — a rare event. On that same episode, he was put into a wrestling hold by Pat Sajak, something that has actually never happened on the long-running game show.
We spoke to the professional wrestler, actor, trivia host and high school drama teacher about what the last few months have been like as a fan favorite.
InsideHook: Have you been preparing for a game show appearance your entire life? In the Venn diagram for the ideal contestant, your wrestling, acting, teaching and trivia backgrounds should cover pretty much every requirement.
Fred Fletcher-Jackson: Sure seems that way. I’ve been a game show fan my whole life — longer than wrestling even. In some way or another, I’ve spent a lot of time casually “practicing” my game show routine. I’d play the Who Wants to be a Millionaire computer game alone in my basement and practice exactly how I’d behave if it were the real show, complete with long pauses, thinking the question out loud, banter with imaginary Regis, everything. I’d build a mini Double Dare obstacle course in my living room and practice the decisive moment where I grab the final flag. The same way wrestlers rehearse their promos subtly to themselves — which I also do now — I’d practice for every possible game show I could be on without explicitly telling anyone it was “practice.”
Your first Wheel appearance was pretty memorable. Sweeping an episode is a fantastic feat, but getting Pat to put you in a wrestling hold is unheard of. How much of your notoriety do you credit to gamesmanship, and how much goes to the chicken wing?
Sweeping the game was a huge thrill, and it certainly impresses the Wheel community of fans and former contestants, but in 40 years of Wheel, it’s been done a few times. I can honestly say I’m not aware of Pat putting a shoot wrestling hold on any other contestant. That’s what got me meme status.
You’ve incorporated the chicken wing into your wrestling repertoire. Are there any non-wrestling Wheel elements you’d like to bring to the squared circle?
The booker for one company I wrestle with is talking about a possible “Wheel of Misfortune” match for me soon, like a Spin the Wheel/Make the Deal kind of thing. I also think a promo where I solve a Wheel puzzle isn’t a bad idea — like I fill in the puzzle by the end of the promo and it says “I’M GONNA BEAT YOU” or something.
You auditioned for WWE Week but were cast for a standard episode of Wheel. If you could have been paired up with a wrestler, WWE or AEW, who would it be?
Well, for my first audition video they asked me to name who I’d like to be paired with and why. I said The Miz because he plays hard, he’s competitive, he’s been on Celebrity Wheel before, and of course I ended by saying “He’s AWESOME!” I truly love The Miz. He’s the one guy still around from the era where I was watching regularly. But if AEW is on the table, then it’s gotta be RJ City. He’s extremely intelligent, entertaining and a fellow game-show fan. We’ve had some fun Twitter banter about the greatness of shows like Match Game.
You also appeared on a Fan Favorites episode of Wheel. Does it feel like you’re a fan favorite?
Seems like it sometimes, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My two opponents [in the Fan Favorites episode] also swept their games, so I assume they wanted to see that clash of the titans. Would they have called me if the Sajak Attack hadn’t happened? Hard to say. But the love and support I’ve gotten from friends, family, fellow Wheel alums and even total strangers on the internet makes me feel like I did a lot of things right.
If you could be a contestant on any other game show, which would it be?
Every single one of them, but right now my heart is set on The Price is Right. I want to meet Drew Carey — he’s a showbiz idol of mine. I’ve learned that I need a few more years of trivia training before I’m ready for shows like Jeopardy!
What was better training for game show appearances: wrestling, acting, hosting trivia or teaching high school?
That’s tough. Theater helped me become comfortable being my full, authentic self in front of an audience. And wrestling taught me that my full, authentic self was good enough.
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