The New WAWLI
Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 512
(ED. NOTE -- The articles in this issue are courtesy of Mr. Duff Goodman and Mr. Scott Teal. Our thanks, per usual, for their sharing materials for the reading pleasure of WAWLI Paper subscribers.)
MAT PROGRAM SET FOR MONDAY
(Detroit Times, Saturday, January 4, 1947)
For the first wrestling show of the New Year at Arena Gardens, Monday night, Promoter Harry Light has paired Flash Gordon with the Great Mephisto; Pat Flanagan with Miguel Torres; Ivan Kalmikoff with Don Kindred and Bill Konke with Pierre DeGlane.
When the scene shifts to Fairview Gardens, Tuesday night, a battle royal will be presented by Promoter Jack Giroux.
Principals already named for the eight-man event are Louis Klein, Bert Rubi, Lou Savoldi, Joe Christie and Sockeye McDonald.
BREAKS TO DECIDE MAT WINNER
(Detroit Times, Saturday, February 22, 1947)
Wrestling fans who can't decide to pick Louis Klein or "Flash" Gordon, present titleholder, as the winner in Monday night's junior heavy bout at the Arena Gardens are agreed on one thing -- the "breaks" will decide the winner.
It is unlikely any two grapplers who have contested for the MWA belt in the eight-year history of the junior heavy division are more evenly matched. The winner must take two falls in an hour and a half.
Watching the bout will be a contingent of Detroit Times carriers.
Other matches are: Walter Roxy vs. Joe Christie, Tommy Tucker vs. Don Kindred and Joe Campbell vs. Dale Wayne.
A TALE OF NIPPER, SLIPPER & RIPPER
(Windsor Star?, circa 1947)
By Ken Fathers
Blood is sure to flow and tempers are bound to run extra high next Thursday night at the Windsor Market when Pierre DeGlane, Quebec junior heavyweight wrestling champion, and Joe Christie, the Unmasked Marvel, clash in the main event special challenge re-match of Blake Robertson's weekly grunt-and-groan show.
The bout is likely to have no time limit and there will be a $1,000 side bet on the outcome of the match besides a double purse. "I'll wrestle or box that yellow skunk," DeGlane screamed last night in the dressing room after Referee Joe Lauzon had disqualified both DeGlane and Christie in one half of a double main event, "and if he wants to bet any amount of money, I'll cover him."
Last night's brawl was one in the true sense of the word, ending with Referee Lauzon taking punches from both DeGlane and Christie and going up and down oftener than an elevator in an office building at noon hour.
The bout was lively, with DeGlane taking the first fall at 15:49 after Christie had become distracted when a kid near the ringside took a swipe at him with a shoe while he was along the ropes in the corner. Christie was, as usual, very dirty, and had DeGlane out of the ring twice in the opening minutes with a strangle-hold. DeGlane came charging back, however, slugging and nailed Christie after a barrage of punches.
Christie scored the second fall at 1:58, kicking DeGlane in the groin three times before flopping him for the count. This fall was recored much to the disapproval of the fans who threatened to clean up on Christie while he was on his way to the dressing room.
It was quite a slugfest as the pair came out for the third fall, and it ended with everyone in an uproar. DeGlane and Christie started to slug it out in the centre of the ring, and when Lauzon tried to break it up he was jumped upon by both wrestlers. He took it from both sides only so long, and then threw up his hands in disgust and cried:
"I'm through. It's no contest. You're both disqualified."
That set the stage for the big rematch next week.
The other half of the main event was won by Flash Gordon over Tony Vagnone, the former Red Ace.
Gordon scored the first fall at the 14-second mark, catching his foe off guard after Vagnone also had tried for a quick fall.
They came out for the second fall, and while Gordon and Vagnone were in a heap near the ropes, the same little urchin who attacked Christie in the other bout came back and walloped Vagnone over the head with a steel-cleated shoe. The blow, a very hard one, opened up a two-inch gash in Vagnone's head, but it also got his temper up, and in the melee which followed, Gordon was floored for the count.
Vagnone returned for the third and deciding fall still bleeding freely, and Gordon took advantage of this to win. He continuously slugged Vagnone over the head with his fist until the intense pain of the wound forced him to cry "uncle."
In the two preliminary tilts, Irish Jim Cahey floored Michael Salvador at 18:28 of a 20-minute match, and Eddie Lee stopped Johnny Gates at 18:05 of a 30-minute match.
'KILLER' WENT FROM COCKSHUTT TO FAME
(Brantford Expositor, circa 1986-87)
By Ed O'Leary
In Detroit, he was the Masked Marvel.
In Buffalo, he was tagged as Joe (Killer) Christie.
More than a million miles later, he was The Destroyer from Parts Unknown.
Now, he's Joe Kayorie, retired. Joe, 70, and his wife, Helen, have been married for 47 years. Helen's appearance today brings one to believe she must have been about three years old when they tied the knot.
Joe was born in Buffalo but when he was two years old, the Kayorie family moved to Brantford. Joe grew into a man standing six-foot-three and weighing 235 pounds. He took a job at Cockshutt's and did some amateur boxing.
In 1948, Joe met wrestling promoter Frank Tunney.
"He said, 'Joe, why don't you take up wrestling,' recalls Joe, who decided to give it a try and went to Hamilton to learn the craft. 'I'll tell you, I was ready to quit every day. They'd slam me, really work me over but I stuck with it."
Joe's glad he did.
"One day, they said, 'Hey, we need a wrestler in Detroit.' I said the only way I'd go down there would be if I wore a mask. I went and started off as the Masked Marvel. I never did go back to Cockshutt's. I went on the road."
Joe was in the grunt and groan game for 23 years and, although Brantford was his home base, he "rassled" mostly in Texas and Montreal.
"Texas was the best for me," he says. "Texas, I'd go there in the winter and in the summer, I'd be in Montreal."
Even now, when Joe talks about Texas, his eyes widen.
"I made the most money there and the people were friendly. We lived in Houston and when we'd go down to the pool, we wouldn't have to introduce ourselves. They knew who you were because of TV. It would always be, 'Hi, neighbour.'"
Joe, noting that he was "always the bad guy," recalls one of his bouts in Waco, Texas. He had just destroyed a Mexican wrestler and some of the locals were not too happy about it.
"Five Mexicans come into the ring with switchblades," he says, now chuckling at an incident that wasn't a laughing matter at the time. "Well, I had a pretty good right hand (hand punch). I knocked one guy cold . . . I had to defend myself. I hit another guy but when I hit him, the knife got me right here (he rolls up his right sleeve and points to a three-inch scar on his forearm). Then I hit another guy but when he was going down, he cut me here (he points to his left hip).
"They took me to the hospital and sewed me up but they took those five guys, too."
Aside from the stab wounds, Joe, who has cauliflowered ears (a hazard of the game back in the '50s and '60s), also suffered broken fingers, ribs and a leg.
"They used to hurt you but I'd hurt them, too," he remembers.
Kayorie became known as Joe (Killer) Christie thanks to a promoter in Buffalo.
A couple of brothers known as Ted and Vic Christie were regulars on the cards in Buffalo. However, when they were unable to make an appearance on one of the cards, the Buffalo promoter phoned Kayorie and asked him if he'd appear under the nom d'plume of Joe Christie.
"I said 'sure.' It was the first time I was ever in Buffalo."
Kayorie was free to wrestle where and when he wanted throughout his career. He never allowed himself to be tied down with one promoter.
"A lot of guys who have managers and would have to stay in one place for three or four months. I never had one (manager). I could go any place I wanted."
Cuba was one of the stops on Kayorie's schedule. He was there with another wrestler who went by the name of Sandor Kovacs. It wasn't an enjoyable trip.
"They said 'all Canadians get on the airplane and get out. Castro's on the outskirts of Havana.' On the way to the airport, we got stopped three times and they said 'open your bags.' We finally got on the airplane and flew direct to Montreal."
Plenty of traveling is one of the occupational hazards of wrestling.
"I bought all my cars at Kett Motors. I used to buy a new car every year. You put 80,000 to 100,000 miles a year on (traveling from show to show). One time I got a call and they asked me to be in Chicago. I had just bought a new car and I told them down at Kett's that I needed it in a hurry. They said, 'Joe, drive it easy until you get it broke in.' I drove 100 miles an hour and made it to the show. You know, that was the best car I ever had.
"I used to travel alone. Guys would say, 'Joe, just wait an hour.' I'd say, 'You go the way you want to go and I'll go the way I want to go.'
"If I was doing it now, I think I'd buy one of those vans. We used to pack a lot of things in those little cars."
Helen traveled with Joe to many of the cards. However, she seldom went into the arena to watch the matches.
"I was nervous," she recalls. "Most of the time I would just wait in the car."
Joe doesn't like to talk much about the money he earned. However, he does admit to receiving $2,700 for a match in "about 1956" in Montreal.
"We made good money," he says. "Back in those days, I could travel all around Texas for $25. I think a gallon of gas was 18 cents and you could get a real good motel room for $5."
How does Joe feel about today's wrestling?
"All those guys that are wrestling today. I used to wrestle their fathers. It's a different kind of wrestling nowadays. It's more acrobatic, you don't see them with cauliflower ears. But you can't take it away from these guys . . . Hogan, Orndorff, Piper. They're good."
However, it's doubtful if any member of the current set ever defeated a bear.
"I'm still the only one that ever beat a bear in Tyler, Texas," Joe says. "They put this bear in and he came to me. Well, I just mvoed out of the way and the bear went over the ropes. I told the ref 'count him out, count him.' He had no other choice and he counted the bear out. They even gave me a trophy for it. See, here it is. How about that?"
Not bad, Joe, not bad at all.
OBITUARY FOR KILLER JOE CHRISTIE
(Brantford Expositor, January 8, 1999)
KAYORIE, Joseph Steven (Killer Joe Christie) -- Passed away suddenly at the Brantford General Hospital on Wednesday, January 6, 1999, in his 83rd year; beloved husband of Helen (nee Simon) for 59 years; loving father of Donna Tymchyk and her husband Stephen of Brantford. Joe will be sadly missed by sisters Julianne Angel of Brantford, Mary Hoel of Dorchester, Eva Grabia and her husband Heinz of Omaha, Nebraska, and his brother John Kayorie and his wife May of Agincourt; predeceased by sisters Helen Lockson and Susan Tothe; dear grandpa of Ronald, Lori Ann and Richard; many nieces and nephews will miss their Uncle Joe. Joe retired from the Sonoco Paper Products Company in 1981. Prior to his employment at Sonoco, Joe was a well known professional wrestler for over 20 years, beginning his wrestling career in 1946 and wrestling throughout Canada, U.S.A. and other countries. His wrestling name was "Killer Joe Christie" and he held the World Junior Heavyweight Wrestling Championship in 1951. Also prior to his career in wrestling, Joe was a boxer and factory worker. The family will receive friends at the THORPE BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME, 96 West Street, from Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A prayer service will be held in the Thorpe Chapel on Monday at 11 a.m. Reverend Father James Mihm Celebrant, Interment Mount Hope Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in Joe's memory may be made to a charity of your choice.
GENTLE 'KILLER' JOE KAYORIE, 82
(Brantford Expositor, January 8, 1999)
By Ted Beare
Many years ago, an Expositor deskman noticed a story on the Canadian Press wire reporting the death of Joe Kayorie in Cambridge.
Jumping to the conclusion that this was the famous wrestler from Brantford, the deskman rewrote the story to inform his readers that the onetime Masked Marvel had died.
It might have been an excellent piece of journalism, proof that editors are ever on the alert and have a keen nose for news. Unfortunately, that particular editor had forgotten the newspaperman's code: Get it first, but first get it right.
Later that day a sportswriter friend of Joe Kayorie was at home when the phone rang. "This is Joe," chuckled the voice on the other end of the line. "You know, Killer Joe. I just wanted to let you know that, like Mark Twin, the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated."
A man with a sharp wit and an ever-present sense of humor, Kayorie was not offended by The Expositor's error, nor did he demand a retraction. "Just wanted you to know I'm still very much alive."
Joe had many years to enjoy that story. Today there's another story of his death and, unfortunately, this one is accurate.
The man who traveled the length and breadth of North America, tangling in the ring with some of the biggest names in professional wrestling, died Wednesday at the Brantford General Hospital in his 83rd year.
Born in Buffalo, Joe moved to Brantford at the age of two and resided here ever since -- except, of course, for those many nights he spent in hotel rooms from the Canadian border to Cuba.
Beginning in 1946, his ring career lasted 23 years. In 1951 he won the world junior (in this case, junior was a weight division rather than an age class) heavyweight wrestling championship.
Mostly, he played the role of a bad guy who would try to twist his opponent into a pretzel and, for good measure, stomp on whatever part of the man's anatomy that happened to be lying unprotected on the mat.
But this was the show-business side of Joe Kayorie, the side that wrestling fans loved to hate. The real Joe Kayorie was a gentle giant (six-three and 235 pounds in his prime) who always had a warm smile and an outstretched hand to greet even the most casual acquaintance.
One day the sportswriter had stopped to talk to a friend in the supermarket when Kayorie came down the aisle, pushing a cartload of groceries. They stopped to chat for a few minutes.
After Kayorie left, the sportswriter asked his friend: "What do you think that man did for a living before he retired?"
"He's big enough to have been a football player," the friend replied. "But he doesn't seem to be mean enough."
Inside the ring, however, Joe was a mean dude. One night a promoter in Buffalo asked him to wrestle there under the pseudonym of Joe Christie and for the rest of his career he became known as Killer Joe Christie.
At times, the fans didn't know -- or weren't supposed to know -- who he was. That was when he would appear as the Masked Marvel. According to the promotion, if he were to lose, he'd have to take off the mask in the ring.
He liked to recall a bout in Waco, Tex., where he beat up on a Mexican wrestler who was a favorite with the local fans. As soon as the bout ended, five of the locals jumped into the ring, brandishing switchblades and seeking to avenge their hero's beating.
Joe would point out that he knocked one man cold with a single punch and managed to subdue all five, while suffering a couple of knife wounds in the scuffle.
"They took me to a hospital and sewed me up
but they took those five guys, too," he said.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 513
WHEN BURT RAY GAVE UP WRESTLING
(Rasslin' Results, Vol. 1, No. 1, Nov., 1968)
To All Members of MATMANIA:
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been forced to give up my work in wrestling and wrestling fan clubs. This is because of a wide variety of factors, and I will not bore you with the full details. I've thoroughly enjoyed the past four years of MATMANIA, and I will miss it a great deal; also, I've enjoyed hearing from my many friends that I have met through wrestling, and I will also miss this field of my past endeavors.
Jim Melby, the vice president (one of several), has graciously volunteered to take over the running of the club, and he will continue the full reporting of the wrestling news from around the world, including the full reporting of results. The dues money received by me has been passed on to Jim, and he will be sending the full number of issues to each of you.
This first issue may not be the full size of future issues put out by Jim and his lovely wife, but once he gets in full swing, he will be including far more pictures and general info from all parts of the world of wrestling. This first issue includes the life record of Bobby Shane, which I had prepared at the request of Diane Devine and others of Bobby's many fans. Future issues will include life records on the Bruiser, the Crusher, Wild Red Berry, Hans Schmidt and many, many others. In short, the work and the interest will continue for everyone.
Those people who have helped me in times past, especially in current and old results, will probably be asked to continue helping Jim. I have given him the full info as to who has helped me in life records, old results, and in the current result collections, and he will be getting in touch directly with most of you for the continuance of this help. I would appreciate it, as will Jim and all the other members and readers appreciate the help given him.
If, in the event that you do not want to continue membership in the club as run by Jim Melby, get in touch with me directly at my current address, 1405 Yale Place, here in Minneapolis, and I will refund your dues.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone for the very interesting and hard-working four years I spent in MATMANIA and wrestling in general. I again apologize for the problems that I have had this past year, and I know that Jim will do everything in his power to ensure everyone enjoying all future issues of the bulletins. Thank you and farewell.
JOE (FLASH) GORDON'S SCRAPBOOK
By J Michael Kenyon
A couple of recent WAWLI Paper issues (and some future ones, as well) have been/will be enhanced via a discovery made by a man to whom I owe an apology. About the worst thing one can do in the course of journalistic effort is to get somebody's name wrong. And, the other day, er, night, when I tried to credit this fine fellow, I printed the wrong name.
His real name is Duff Johnson and he's the fellow who discovered the Flash Gordon scrapbook. Here, in his own words, is a little about his interest in pro wrestling and how he came upon this small treasure trove:
"I, a fourth-generation Sacramentan, and my father, a prominent dentist, attended the local matches in the fifties (this stretches my 50-year-old memory), then with great regularity through the sixties until I went off to college in 1966 to become respectable and allow social pressures to dictate my interests. Still, with great courage, I rallied a few true friends who, willing to humor their strange pal, accompanied me to the matches through the seventies.
"Pete Visser (a 1920s-era wrestler) was a friend of my father, although this was before my memory. As I recall, they worked out and wrestled together at the gymnasium in the basement of the Elks Lodge #6, a very nice gym for its time . . . around here he's referred to as "Doc" Visser. Not sure, but I think he, too, may have been a dentist. I do distinctly remember dad mentioning that Visser would not wrestle with most of the men in the gym because their fingernails were too long and he got scratched. But he made dad an exception since he, like wrestlers, kept his nails closely trimmed for his profession. Dad was also a good guy and a good athlete . . .
"The Visser years were before my time. But I'm just breaking surface on Sacramento WAWLI history--haven't even hit the newspaper archives yet. I will keep you posted. Here's a serendipitous coincidence: an old-timer (and I mean OLD), who helps out at the shop where I bought the scrapbook, attended boxing and wrestling shows in those halcyon days. He told me that he knew Doc Visser when Visser promoted the shows at the old sports auditorium on "L" Street. Again, that auditorium was long gone in my youth, having been replaced by the (recently re-opened) Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on "J" Street. BTW, there's been some good "National Wrestling Conference" shows there since they re-opened, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.
"As to the source of the scrapbook, I know nothing. The owner of the collectables shop where I discovered it works the estate sales, attics and basements. I'll ask him if he knows which basement in particular it came from. All I can say is I did not discover it sitting at home, drinking beer, eating junk food and watching TV. On this particular occasion I took a break from those noble pastimes and got out to an area of town known for its collectibles shops. Just asked around and had a great time. Untill I had to pay up. Talk about a mark. Someday I'll learn how to beat those guys at their own game, eh?
"Last week I got off my can and ran a classified ad in the local paper asking for wrestling memorabilia. Got three calls including one particularly good lead which I hope pans out. If so, I'll have to quit my job and become a monk to sort through it all. But one never knows: after that damn "Antiques Road Show" hit the air everyone thinks they have a fortune in their garage. So they'll ask too much for it, I'll let it go, and it ends up in the dumpster. Maybe not. One caller, who I hope to meet this weekend, told me that's what happened to all of Louie Miller's records. The fella said Miller (longtime Sacramento promoter) had two sons who didn't care for the material so it was discarded. I hope he's wrong and someone like us gets to rediscover it."
As you may note, Mr. Johnson (not Goodman, as I mistakenly printed his name, through one of the mental lapses which are becoming more frequent in my dotage) is brimming with enthusiasm for the pursuit of professional wrestling history. It's a difficult quest, but a great deal of fun, as he discovered -- and as I hope many of you who read these newsletters will discover, too.
REMEMBERING SAM MUCHNICK
By Jess McGrath
To modern fans of pro wrestling, many of whom truly discovered the sport less than ten years ago, Sam Muchnick is remembered as some old guy who appeared at legends functions and had done something important but nobody seemed to know what. The truth of it is that Muchnick is easily among the five most influential men in the history of pro wrestling worldwide, and certainly could be called the most important promoter ever without much question. Yes, even more so than Vince McMahon.
Muchnick passed away on December 30, 1998, in St. Louis, the city out of which his wrestling empire grew. He was 93. Initially a postal clerk, he left that position in 1926 to join the sports staff of the St. Louis Times, earning $20 a week to cover the Cardinals. When the paper merged with the St. Louis Star six years later, Muchnick was offered a position there but declined it, reportedly because it would have meant a good friend of his would have lost his job.
After a stint in the Army from 1942 to 1945, Sam returned home to enter the pro wrestling business as a promoter.
There was no National Wrestling Alliance, but there was a National Wrestling Association. This group was much looser than the NWA which would follow it and essentially restricted to the Midwest. The coalition had survived the wrestling drought of the 1930s, becoming the only office to draw money at a time where the business, and the entire country for that matter, was starving.
Tom Packs, one of the promoters in the Association who controlled its world title with Billy Sandow, was the guy running St. Louis. Starting out in the business in 1922, he made a killing both in promoting his hometown and in "selling" the world title, which was a common practice in those days. For a fee, Packs’ wrestler would drop the belt to a wrestler from another territory. It was a win-win situation, as Packs got cash and the other promoter got a credibility boost among the fans. If worse came to worse, the title could just be stripped from the other guy’s wrestler, since he retained control over the belt (that happened more than once, notably with Steve Casey when he left the country in 1938).
Prior to the war, Muchnick had gotten involved in Packs’ office following the newspaper merger. When the war came to a conclusion, Sam returned home and promptly opened an office in opposition to Packs.
Early on, Packs slaughtered Muchnick. Packs used his connections across the country to prevent any big names from working for Muchnick and to give him as little coverage as possible. Even though Sam was a former reporter, Packs was in tight with the local writers, and it was tough to find a break. Shut out from using the top stars, Muchnick brought in older guys who were past their prime, including Casey (who I’d imagine was not exactly going to be welcomed back by Packs) and Ed Lewis, who had won his first world title twenty-five years earlier. The best comparison of Packs vs. Muchnick would be something like WWF vs. AWF.
Muchnick’s guys were the old, slow veterans living off their reps (AWF), while Packs had the high-flying, brawling stars of the day (WWF). It was no contest at the gate; Packs was the king. But fortunately for Muchnick, he got two lucky breaks.
The first was Packs’ personal misfortune, as he went bankrupt in the stock market and was forced to sell his office and control of the World title for $360,000 to an ownership group comprised of Lou Thesz, Eddie Quinn, Frank Tunney, Bobby Managoff, and world champ Bill Longson. The second, though, was the break that not only saved him, but also changed the face of the business forever. Muchnick went to several promoters in the Midwest and shared with them the problems he was having with competition in his own territory (now from the Thesz group as opposed to Packs). He then suggested forming some kind of an alliance to combat this.
Five others thought it was a good idea, and on July 14, 1948, the group formed the National Wrestling Alliance in Waterloo, Iowa. The original six promoters were Muchnick (St. Louis), Al Haft (Columbus, Ohio, which was a huge money territory at the time), Max Clayton (Omaha), Pinky George (Des Moines), and Orville Brown (Kansas City, Kansas). Haft and Brown had been having some success with their own Midwest Wrestling Association, of which Brown was the champion. So when the two joined the NWA, Brown became its first world champ.
The agreement between the promoters was that they would share talent with each other but not with promoters in competition with an Alliance member, and would also blacklist any wrestler who hurt the business in any way. This would come back to bite them in the mid-1950s, as the government explored the NWA’s possible violation of anti-trust laws. Thanks to Muchnick’s connections to a powerful House member, the suit disappeared quietly, with the Alliance agreeing to drop those clauses on paper but not in practice.
Buoyed by the new venture, Muchnick immediately put it to use by bringing in Buddy Rogers from Haft in November 1948. Rogers was over in the city from a previous stint with Packs, and he was a huge box-office draw. Rogers’ run closed the gap between Sam and the Thesz group, but fears of a drop in business once Rogers left for another territory led Muchnick to meet with Thesz about merging their offices. The two would agree to a deal in 1949 that made them equal partners in a new, unified St. Louis office.
Since the National Wrestling Association had pretty much crumbled by that time, the new NWA’s world title would become the top belt. Thesz, the Association champion, was to face Brown, with the winner getting both titles, but Brown was in a car accident two weeks before the match that essentially ended his career (he would try a comeback briefly but it didn’t last). Thesz ended up being declared the new world champion by forfeit, beginning a seven-year run with the belt that would be as profitable for Muchnick as it was for Thesz himself.
Sam had become NWA president in 1950 (taking over for George) and thus the booker of the champion. He commanded a 3% fee for every date he arranged for the champ. That brought him about $40,000 in after-tax profit each year, which of course is aside from the profits of his own territory.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Muchnick. St. Louis aside, being the NWA president was as political a job as one could get. Instead of balancing the needs of a small crew of wrestlers against the desires of a promotion’s booker or show coordinator, here Muchnick had to deal with over three dozen promoters, each of whom were looking to further their own office and, despite the agreement they had signed, really couldn’t care less about any other promoter.
Thesz was a thorn in Muchnick’s side on numerous occasions, as he was very picky about where he wrestled, how much he was paid, and who he would put over. Some of the battles Muchnick won -- for example, he got Thesz to wrestle on an Al Haft show featuring a women’s match despite the Alliance’s agreement not to have their world champion wrestle on the same card as women or midgets -- but he also lost some as well.
He was unable to get Thesz to drop the belt in 1957 to Buddy Rogers, as Thesz and Rogers had a lot of heat with each other and there was no way Thesz was going to do business with him. It ended up with Thesz putting over Dick Hutton, a good worker but lacking in charisma and never a big draw.
The Alliance went through a good deal of backstage turmoil in the late 1950s and early 1960s, some of which was Muchnick’s doing. He had given up the presidency in 1960, with Frank Tunney taking over, but that didn’t mean he was out of power. Far from it. Muchnick was always a big fan of Buddy Rogers, but when the belt was finally put on him in 1961, things backfired.
Toots Mondt and Vince McMahon Sr., who ran the Capital Wrestling Corporation, the Northeast territory from Washington, D.C. to New York, took over control of Rogers’ bookings and refused to allow him to work weekends anywhere but in their own territory. He was only able to be booked in other territories a few days every month. Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with the other promoters, so Muchnick called Thesz, still his silent partner in the St. Louis office, to save the day.
Rogers kept cancelling out of matches where he was to drop the belt until Sam said he would donate the $25,000 performance bond posted by Rogers (and every NWA champion) to charity. Buddy finally showed up and dropped the belt to Thesz on January 24, 1963. The title change was never recognized in the Northeast; Rogers kept right on being called champion, although it was no longer of the NWA but now of the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Muchnick, once again named president in 1963, was always a firm believer in the principles of an alliance of promoters, so he sought to lure McMahon and Mondt back into the fold. The New York promoters arranged a meeting in Chicago in 1965 with Tunney, Muchnick, and then-NWA champion Thesz, where they tried to negotiate a title vs. title match between Thesz and the WWWF champion, Bruno Sammartino, in New York. Vince and Toots felt they could make a killing off closed-circuit throughout the country, as well as netting around $200,000 at the gate alone (an unheard-of figure for the time period).
The idea was for Thesz to drop the belt to Bruno for $50,000 (half going to Muchnick and half to Thesz) with a rematch a year later where Thesz would regain the title. Muchnick thought it was a great idea, since it would bring one of the "outlaws" back into the alliance, and a powerful one at that. There was no dismissing the fact that New York was the big money territory at the time.
Thesz, who had a strong dislike for Mondt, didn’t want to do it unless he got $100,000 and ten percent of the MSG gate. Muchnick tried to order Thesz into taking the original deal, but when Lou said he would do a shoot if he was paid anything less, the deal fell apart. Needless to say, Thesz also fell out of grace with the NWA over the deal, and he dropped the belt to Gene Kiniski in January 1966.
Muchnick remained as NWA president through 1975, presiding over the glory years of the title. Dory Funk Jr. would beat Kiniski in February 1969 to become champion, and it was during his reign that the title had reached a high point in terms of prestige and drawing power. Lots of territories had guys who were hot that people wanted to see take the title, so Funk was able to draw huge crowds, which kept everybody happy.
St. Louis, which was now owned outright by Muchnick (Thesz sold his share in the office), was doing great business and was recognized by the fans as the place where the best workers of the era performed. As a result, the fans’ standards for wrestlers were high, and guys had to be great workers to get over. Just take a look at some of the guys who held the Missouri title in the 1970s: Harley Race, Johnny Valentine, Terry Funk, Gene Kiniski, Dory Funk Jr., Bob Backlund, Jack Brisco, Dick Slater, Ted DiBiase, and Dick Murdoch. Of those guys, only Backlund would not be called a great worker, and he was able to get over because of his amateur background, which translated into "great wrestling ability" in the fans’ eyes. Of course, there were exceptions (Dick the Bruiser).
Muchnick gave up the NWA presidency for good in 1975. Jack Adkisson took over, and it spelled the end of the clean finish era for the world title. During Muchnick’s run, even if there were screwjobs in the beginning of a program involving the champ, the titleholder always had to come out on top via clean finish in the end. Once Adkission took over, that disappeared, and the prestige of the title in various territories took a dive.
Sam finally left the business in late1981, with his retirement show on January 1, 1982, at the Checkerdome in St. Louis (strangely not at the Kiel Auditorium, which had become most associated with Muchnick). Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. proclaimed the day as Sam Muchnick Day, and the show drew a huge gate for matches that included Dick the Bruiser winning the Missouri title from Ken Patera. The St. Louis territory continued, as Muchnick sold his interest to Verne Gagne, Larry Matysik, and Bob Geigel, though business never was as good as under Muchnick.
In fairness to the new ownership group, though, the business had changed, and the territory system was on the way out. Jim Crockett ended up buying a piece of the office and shutting it down in 1986, bringing an end to over fifty years of wrestling.
Muchnick remained a revered treasure from
wrestling’s glorious past until his death. At every opportunity he was
honored, on the surface as a guy who did something for wrestling a long time
ago, but underneath, as the glue that bound the Alliance for over thirty years.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 514
THE MOTIVATIONS FOR THE LAWSUIT
(Boston Globe, Friday, May 26, 1999)
By Hermione Malone
CAMBRIDGE - A defense attorney yesterday tried to poke holes in the story of a teenage wrestler who went to Wonderland Greyhound Park expecting a choreographed match against two dwarfs and instead says he was viciously beaten in the ring.
Attorney James Merberg suggested Erich Kulas, 19, of Cranston, R.I., filed a criminal complaint against Jerome ''New Jack'' Young of Philadelphia because he plans to file a civil lawsuit over the alleged attack.
Kulas admitted contacting a lawyer for a possible suit against Extreme Championship Wrestling, sponsors of the 1996 event.
But prosecutors say the attack on him -- in front of 1,000 spectators at the park -- was savage and criminal. They say Kulas was struck with a wooden crutch, an electric toaster, a guitar, and a steel chair, and stabbed with a fork and slashed with a sharp blade. He received 50 stitches on his head, they said.
They have charged Young with assault and battery and assault with a dangerous weapon, the blade.
Jurors at Chelsea District Court yesterday viewed a violent and sometimes gruesome 4 1/2-minute videotape of the match.
On the tape, Young, 36, repeatedly whacks Kulas with the crutch, guitar, and toaster. Then, Young pulls Kulas off the floor by his hair and cuts him with a blade.
Blood spills onto the ring mat and onto Kulas's costume, a bus driver's uniform. Kulas appears in wrestling matches as Ralph ''Mass Transit'' Kramden.
Merberg alleged Kulas knew he was going to get cut, or ''colored'' in wrestling lingo, because he tightly pressed his lips together and puffed out his cheeks. Merberg said that maneuver is commonly done by wrestlers to make their blood spray farther when cut.
''Whatever my face movements were when I was getting stabbed was pain,'' Kulas said.
Kulas, who weighs more than 370 pounds, had wrestled in some amateur matches before the event, and said he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his hero, ''Hulk Hogan.''
Kulas said he was at the Revere match at the invitation of another wrestler he had appeared with before. Kulas thought if he did fight that night, it would be with that wrestler and his brother, both dwarfs, with whom he had a choreographed routine.
The case has focused attention on ''extreme wrestling,'' a competition in which opponents clobber one another with furniture and other props.
THE DREAM TURNED TOO REAL
(Boston Globe, Thursday, May 27, 1999)
By Hermione Malone
It was Erich Kulas's dream: Climb into a wrestling ring in front of 1,000 people, take fake body blows and head butts while the crowd goes crazy.
But when he finally got his chance, Kulas says he was beaten for real -- whacked on his back with a wooden crutch, clobbered on the head with an acoustic guitar, a toaster, and a steel chair, and, most painfully of all, sliced across the forehead with a steel blade.
Prosecutors yesterday charged wrestler Jerome Young, 36, of Philadelphia, known professionally as New Jack, with two counts of criminal assault.
They say Kulas was a starry-eyed teenager who arrived at Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere to break into big-time wrestling, and left with his dreams in tatters and 50 stitches across his brow.
He was ''used as a sacrificial lamb to appease hormonal men's thirst for blood,'' said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michael Murphy.
The case, which opened in Chelsea District Court yesterday, offers a rare glimpse into the world of ''extreme wrestling,'' where few rules apply.
And unlike collegiate or more mainstream wrestling, combatants who weigh as much as 300 pounds can take on foes half as big.
The case comes on the heels of Sunday's death of World Wrestling Federation star Owen Hart, who plunged 70 feet to his death when a stunt went wrong.
Young's lawyer, James Merberg, said his client never intended to hurt Kulas, and said Kulas never tried to stop the fight.
''Look for any evidence that Mr. Kulas tried to get out of the ring, or turn his back on his combatants,'' Merberg said during opening arguments.
The night began when Kulas, then 17, got a call on Nov. 23, 1996, from a wrestling team of two brothers, both of them dwarfs, who asked him for a ride to the event.
So, Kulas, who had wrestled with the pair in staged amateur matches before, agreed to go.
Kulas, who uses the name Ralph ''Mass Transit'' Kramden, showed up with his bus driver costume, including hat, tie, and boots. Once backstage in the locker room, Kulas said he was approached by the event's booker, who asked him: ''Do you want to wrestle for ECW [Extreme Championship Wrestling], kid?''
Kulas excitedly said yes.
While he was changing, Kulas said he talked over the moves for the match with the two brothers he thought he would be wrestling.
But when he got into the ring and started to rile up the crowd, a different, much bigger tag-team came out: Jerome Young and his partner, a.k.a. Mustafa.
From there, Kulas said he didn't know what was going on. He took a few fake blows from Young's partner and fell down.
Next, Kulas said he was hit in the head with a guitar by Young's partner, took some soft hits, then looked to his left.
''I saw Mr. Young wielding a crutch,'' Kulas said. The crutch came down on Kulas's back twice, according to testimony.
''Why didn't you just leave the ring?'' asked Murphy.
''Where was I to go?'' Kulas asked. ''I didn't know what was going on.''
So the mayhem continued, Kulas said, and he was picked up by the back of his shirt and his hair and thrown into Young, who hit him across the head with a toaster.
''I was laying on my belly and Mr. Young came up from behind and pulled me up by my hair,'' Kulas said, adding that Young had an object that appeared to have ''some sort of razor at the end.''
According to Kulas, everything was a blur until he felt the blade break his skin. ''Then I knew ... that I was getting my face cut open.''
In the crowd, Kulas said he heard his father frantically scream, ''That's enough! That's enough!''
But Kulas said the match continued. He said he was stabbed in the head with a fork, hit in the face with a rubber trash can, and hit in the head with a steel chair.
That was the last of the fight that he remembers.
The trial, which will include a viewing of a videotape of the fight, is to continue today.
WRESTLER ACQUITTED OF CHARGES
(Boston Globe, Friday, June 4, 1999)
In the world of professional wrestling, things are often not what they seem. In a court case bizarre for both its accusations and the characters involved -- ''New Jack'' vs. ''Ralph "Mass Transit' Kramden'' -- one side saw assault, the other a scripted match.
The ulimate referees -- six jurors -- sided with Jerome Young, a.k.a. New Jack, and acquitted him yesterday of two charges: assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Erich Kulas, who fights under the Kramden moniker, accused Young, 36, of viciously attacking him during a November 1996 Extreme Championship Wrestling match in Revere.
Kulas, 19, testified he was struck over the back twice with a wooden crutch, hit with an acoustic guitar and electric toaster, had his forehead sliced eight centimeters with a blade, and continued to be assaulted with a chair and rubber garbage can.
Everything from the props to the blood was all choreographed and Kulas was a willing participant, argued Young's attorney James Merberg.
''This was absolutely not a staged assault on an innocent young man, but rather a choreographed, planned match,'' Merberg said. Young left the state after the trial and couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.
Nearly every witness in the case was involved in wrestling, making it difficult for the jury to penetrate the shell of illusion, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michael Murphy.
''I think they believed that the alleged victim was a willing participant in the event and that maybe the defendant made a mistake or that it was an accident that he hurt him so bad, but that it was part of the routine,'' Murphy said.
Kulas, of Rhode Island, expressed his disappointment with the verdict in a written statement through his attorney.
''It is ... inconceivable to us that the jury could have so disregarded the evidence and returned such a verdict. We will continue to exercise all of our rights and will pursue ultimate justice in a civil form.''
On the stand, Kulas said he no longer had the desire -- or physical ability -- to wrestle. He said he had hoped the Revere match would have catapulted him into the professional wrestling world.
Extreme Championship Wrestling, a start-up organization, is similar to both the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. But competitors in ECW routinely use props to pummel their opponents and often cut their heads with blades, called ''blading'' or ''juicing.''
During Kulas' testimony, Merberg repeatedly asked him why he didn't try to defend himself. Jurors viewed a three-and-a-half-minute videotape of the fight in which Kulas never lifted his hands in defense or attempted to exit the ring.
''I wasn't safe in the ring and I wasn't safe out of the ring,'' Kulas testified last week. ''Where was I to go? I didn't know what was going on.''
But Merberg challenged Kulas, saying every move, every hit had been practiced backstage before the fight at the facilities of the Wonderland Greyhound Park.
''If you see the videotape, you could see the sequences,'' he said.
Though he acknowledges Young is scripted to be the ''bad guy'' -- named after the bloody-gangland style film ''New Jack City'' -- Merberg said the image is only a script and the match with Kulas was a part of that script.
MANKIND BACK TO WHERE HE STARTED
(Clarksburg, W.Va., Exponent, May 28, 1999)
By Wendy Glover
Ladies and gentlemen. Children of all ages. Returning to the area at 287 pounds and accompanied by his friend, Socko -- it’s World Wrestling Federation superstar, MANKIND!
Area residents got up close and personal with one of wrestling’s most popular characters recently when Mick Foley -- alias the WWF’s Mankind -- made and appearance in Fairmont.
Mankind returned to West Virginia -- where he kick-started his career 13 years ago -- as part of a local radio station’s promotions program.
Approximately 300 V.I.P. winners filled the Middletown Meeting and Banquet Center to have a personal meeting with the professional wrestler before he made a public appearance in front of 3,000 fans at Middletown Mall.
Foley, using the name "Cactus Jack," made his professional wrestling debut at the Nathan Goff Armory here on June 24, 1986 -- his first of many visits to the area. During that time, he visited Cactus Jack’s Tex Mex Restaurant on Route 19 where he was presented a T-shirt.
"I remember it was black and orange and I wore it until I outgrew it. I thought about going for a burrito today to see if they would give me another one," he said.
This time around, the West Virginia State Police presented him with a tie displaying police symbols, which he promised to wear on Monday Night Raw in front of a national television audience.
Foley entered the banquet room wearing the leather mask that signals his transformation into Mankind. He sported his usual white business shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and completed the outfit with sweat pants and the trooper tie.
The heat in the crowded room prompted him to remove his mask, revealing a mass of tangled brown hair. He then faced his fans as a ragged Mick Foley.
While signing autographs and posing for pictures, Foley continuously took questions from the V.I.P. winners and made jokes about his commercial endorsement of Chef Boy-ardee Ravioli, giving the audience a hearty "mmmmmmm Beefy!"
But he also took a serious stance, defending his job. By choosing a career in professional wrestling, he said he went through the same process as a fireman, policeman or anyone else would.
"I chose a career that I thought I would be good in," he said. "I was a fan for years and felt it was something I could do, but I never imagined this."
And about all those hits he suffers while wrestling, Foley told fans he simply doesn’t remember most of them.
"At the request of my doctors, I made a vow to quit getting hit for six months," he said. "But as you all probably saw, I took a hit with a chair only four months after that promise."
Foley alluded to rumors that the World Wrestling Federation follows a storyline and stages its matches, which has resulted in it being termed "sports entertainment."
"I’m looking to buy some of those fake chairs that everyone believes we use," he said. "Is there anywhere around here I could get some?"
Foley was accompanied during the appearance by Socko, his sweat-sock friend who helps him complete his finishing move, the mandible claw.
A professional wrestler hanging around with a sock puppet? What’s that all about?
Foley was quick with the explanation:
Mankind was looking for a way to comfort WWF owner Vince McMahon during a stay in the hospital and decided on a clown and a sock puppet. During a wrestling event in Michigan the next night, hundreds of fans’ signs displayed the name, Socko. That was over a year ago and Socko has stuck.
Sitting at the front of the banquet room separated from his fans by only a table, Foley spoke of his friendships with other wrestlers. For instance, he has known Stone Cold Steve Austin, another WWF superstar, for 10 years and let the audience in on a side of Stone Cold they never see.
"One time Steve and I went to a bar and he ordered a white wine spritzer with a twist," he recalled with a slight smirk. "I guess it goes well with the watercrest sandwiches he likes."
While visiting, Foley also promoted an autobiography he is currently writing. It will contain a chapter dedicated to his first visit to Clarksburg, plus many chapters describing his relationships with other wrestlers, as well as McMahon.
A father of two, Foley’s thoughts are never far from his family. He said he allows his children to watch him at work and the kids think their father is the best, he admitted.
Prior to his visit with the V.I.P. winners, Foley made a stop at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown where he donned his leather mask and visited with a 10 year-old boy who is dying of lung cancer.
"Mick put on the mask and signed some autographs for him," said Hunter Scott, the morning disc jockey for radio station WKKW. "The reason he was late for the mall appearance was because he played a wrestling video game with the boy -- and Mankind lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin."
"What gets me about Mick Foley is how down to earth he is and what a family man he is," said Scott.
"Mick Foley the man isn’t Mick Foley the
character," he said.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 515
MUNN SORRY SIGHT IN RING
(Associated Press, December 23, 1925)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wayne "Big" Munn, heavyweight wrestler and former University of Nebraska football star, essaying for the second time a ring career, was knocked out here tonight in the first round of a scheduled 10-round bout by Andre Andersen, of Chicago. Munn lasted only two minutes.
Munn's previous venture with the gloves ended similarly. He was knocked out by Jack Clifford several years ago, shortly after leaving the university.
Andersen, a trial horse in the heavyweight division for years, poked a few short jabs to Munn's chin and the 250-pound wrestler hit the canvas. He rose ponderously, on the count of nine with blood streaming from his mouth, and Andersen shot two more short ones to the chin. Munn crashed down and was out.
Munn presented a ludicrous performance as he came out from his corner for the fray. He held his head far back, and he was wide open.
Not more than two dozen blows were exchanged. Only once did Munn connect for a solid blow. This, a right to the side of the head, was delivered just before Andersen opened up with the jabs that sent Munn down the first time. Andersen weighed 239 pounds.
Munn at one time claimed the heavyweight wrestling championship, having defeated the then champion, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, in a disputed match in Kansas City.
The crowd booed Munn's showing tonight.
BERLENBACH EYES RETURN TO MAT
(Associated Press, January 1, 1926)
NEW YORK -- Paul Berlenbach, world's lightheavyweight champion, will go back to the headlock and scissors when the punch leaves his powerful left hand.
Originally a wrestler and an Olympic mat champion in 1920, Paul has never lost his interest in the grappling sport, despite his unusual success with the gloves.
"When I quit the ring," he said, "I surely will go back to wrestling. The beauty of that sport is a man is never too old to wrestle and a good man can earn more money wrestling than fighting."
STECHER WILLING TO MEET LEWIS
(Associated Press, January 10, 1926)
DENVER, Colo. -- Ralph Mondt, matchmaker for the Denver American Legion Athletic Association, announced yesterday that he would bid $30,000 for a match between Joe Stecher and Ed "Strangler" Lewis to be held here next summer. Mondt proposes to stage the match in the University of Denver's new athletic stadium, which seats 30,000 persons.
'GET STRANGLER TO SIGN & SO WILL JOE'
(Associated Press, January 10, 1926)
DODGE, Nebr. -- Anton Stecher, brother-manager of Joe Stecher, heavyweight wrestler, when advised tonight of the desire of matchmaker Ralph Mondt of Denver for a match between Stecher and Ed "Strangler" Lewis, said that as soon as Mondt can sign Lewis, Joe will sign.
MISTER AND MISSUS BLIMP LEVY
(Indianapolis Sports Week, July 26, 1949)
Yep! There's a Mrs. Blimp, too! And she's certainly a sharp contrast to her hulking husband, who is sitting on two chairs to support his 642 pounds as he bounces "Mamma" on his knee.
Mrs. Levy is nineteen years old, and weighs just 90 pounds. She's the former Miss Charlotte Jones of Denver, Colo.
This fellow Martin Levy astounds everyone wherever he appears. Sports writers invariably are incredulous when they discover that Levy can get around with incredible ease. He can do many things that they themselves long have given up or never could accomplish in the first place.
Most youngsters can kick above their heads, but how many men past the age of 30 can do it? See what we mean. In the ring, the 642-pounder has great balance and it's a Herculean job to get him off his feet.
Punches to his midriff, or flying tackles don't make him so much as bat an eye. Ed Soovola, the Indianapolis Times feature writer, told us he was amazed when the Blimp invited him to punch away at his huge stomach.
"I sent two or three of my 'Sunday' wallops his way with all the force I could muster. It was like sinking my fists into a big feather bed," Ed said, with awe dripping from every word. "This guy is terrific!"
A smart business man, the Blimp is preparing for the future. He owns several thriving businesses in Boston, his home town, and will be "well fixed" when his wrestling days are over.
He loves to play cards and never misses an opportunity to sit in, be it stud poker, gin rummy, or what have you?
The Blimp is an expert swimmer and spends as much time in the water as his strenuous schedule will permit. People who have seen him swim say he's really well above the average.
And wouldn't you know it, he can float, too!
A WRESTLING TOUR TO PERU
(Miami Herald, May 27, 1999)
Worldwide Pro Wrestling -- under the auspicious of the Future of Wrestling, a South Florida independent group -- traveled to Lima, Peru May 17 to 25.
"The eight days we spent in Peru was an experience that will be talked about by those involved forever,'' said Hardcore Hero Bobby Rogers. "The crew I brought there was by far the most professional and the best bunch of talent I have ever worked with in my nine years in the business.
"I want to thank everyone who worked the tour, those who helped set it up, the great effort by our 24-hour security and especially the fans and people of Peru who gave us all an overwhelming response and made everyone a star.''
On Tuesday, May 18, some of the wrestlers appeared on a Peru talk show, equivalent to Saturday Night Live. The actors did a spoof on the wrestlers, mimicking Bobby Rogers, Yuel Lovett, Mike Monroe, Marshall Law, The Postman and Lovett's valet Montana.
On Wednesday, May 19, Bobby Rogers, Yuel Lovett, Mike Monroe, Marshall Law, The Postman, Lovett's valet Montana, Cyborg, Phi DeKapp U and Samurai Kid Billy Fives were guests on a day time talk show, The Monica Show, Peru's Oprah.
They are planning a return trip in July. The WPW/FOW continues to seek talent. For information, call 954-748-5555 or 954-269-5555.
• Here are the results:
• Thurs., May 20: Amauta Coliseo: Attendance: 2,731
Samurai Kid Billy Fives, fresh off his tryout match for the World Wrestling Federation at the National Car Rental Center on may 11, defeated J-Dawg; Rusty Brooks and Dennis Allen double countout; Postman and Martial Law defeated Mike Monroe and Rusty Brooks; Prince Ali Khan defeated Hardcore Hero Bobby Rogers; Cyborg defeated Anthony Adonis; The Exterminators defeated Phi De Cappa U Twins for the tag team titles.
• Fri., May 21: Amauta Coliseo: Attendance: 6,152
Anthony Adonis defeated Samurai Kid Billy Fives; J-Dawg defeated Prince Ali Khan and Bobby Rogers in a 3-way dance; The Exterminators defeated Rusty Brooks and Mike Monroe; Phi De Cappa U's Mike Shane defeated Martial Law; Postman defeated Phi De Cappa U's Todd Shane by countout; Cyborg defeated Dennis Allen.
• Sat., May 22: Amauta Coliseo: Attendance: 8,571 (broadcast live throughout South America)
Samurai Kid Billy Fives defeated Anthony Adonis; J-Dawg defeated Mike Monroe; Rusty Brooks defeated Dennis Allen; Bobby Rogers defeated Prince Ali Khan in a Hardcore match; Yuel Lovett with Montana defeated Martial Law; Cyborg defeated Postman; Richard "Hollywood'' Hogan defeated Fabulous Frank; Phi De Cappa U Twins defeated the Exterminators to regain the tag team titles.
• Sun., May 23: Amauta Coliseo: Attendance: 10,009
Samurai Kid Billy Fives defeated J-Dawg; Dennis Allen defeated Mike Monroe; Fabulous Frank defeated Mike Monroe; Phi De Cappa U's Todd Shane defeated Anthony Adonis; Postman defeated Yuel Lovett; Rusty Brooks and Exterminator Dead Bug double DQ; Bobby Rogers defeated Prince Ali Khan in a No Boundaries match; Phi De Cappa U's Mike Shane defeated Exterminator Pesticide Pete; Cyborg defeated Martial Law; Samurai Kid Billy Fives won a 16-man Battle Royale.
SOME SOBER THOUGHTS AFTER HART DEATH
(Rocky Mountain News, Friday, May 28, 1999)
By Alex Marvez
Bruce Hart hopes the in-ring death of his brother prompts wrestling fans to reconsider what they're watching.
Owen Hart died during the Over the Edge pay-per-view telecast May 23, falling 70 feet into the ring while being lowered from the ceiling at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Police are still investigating what went wrong, with the focus on why a release mechanism connecting Hart to a cable was activated prematurely.
But to Bruce Hart, there was no reason why his 34-year-old brother ever should have been placed in such a position. Bruce Hart believes Owen's death was the result of the World Wrestling Federation's shift from traditional pro wrestling to the wild soap opera the sport has become.
"Owen deplored the whole direction of the business and the so-called hard-core elements of the thing," said Bruce, a former pro wrestler who now runs his family's legendary wrestling school in Calgary. "He didn't want to be part of that. He was upset at how stupid it had become, with people busting tables and coming off the tops of cages.
"He was a wrestler, not a stuntman. He didn't want to partake in any of that. They should have just let him wrestle."
Hart said his brother's death shows the industry has gone too far with the stunts and risque storylines most of today's performers participate in.
"'Wrestling' is not even a phrase I would use to describe what's going on today," said Hart, who is also disgusted by some of the angles on WWF rival World Championship Wrestling. "It seems to be a sign of all the messed up things in society right now that Vince McMahon is almost a poster child of."
McMahon, the WWF's owner, has drawn sharp criticism from the Hart family for his handling of the incident, especially for the decision to continue the pay-per-view show after the accident and what some relatives believe was a self-serving tribute to Owen on this week's "Monday Night Raw" telecast.
Bruce Hart said he was sickened when he learned that McMahon allowed himself to be placed in an ambulance for an "ankle injury" on Over the Edge just minutes after his brother's accident. The WWF also aired pre-taped footage of Triple H pounding a casket containing The Rock after Hart's death was announced to viewers. (Fans at Kemper Arena were never updated on Hart's condition.)
Making the situation even more painful, the Hart family was well aware that Owen hated the ceiling stunt and the Blue Blazer gimmick he was wrestling under. Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, said Hart was asked by WWF officials to become the masked Blazer again after refusing to partake in a storyline with a female performer out of respect for his marriage.
Bruce Hart said he spoke with McMahon after his brother's death.
"It sounded like he was cutting a promo," Hart said. "He almost gave me the same BS speech he gave at the news conference (about the accident).
"I just tore into him. I said, 'This is all on your head, Vince. Your insatiable quest to make money and get (television) ratings needlessly put a guy's life at risk."'
Bret Hart had just arrived in Los Angeles for a Monday appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show" when he learned of Owen's death. Hart, who was slated to wrestle Kevin Nash in a match on the "Tonight Show" that would have been heavily promoted beforehand on "WCW Monday Nitro," returned home to Calgary. The event has not been rescheduled.
Questions and answers
QUESTION: Was the tragic death of Owen Hart the first ring accident that has resulted in death for a professional wrestler? Tracy Nunnally, Greeley, Colo.
ANSWER: While several Japanese performers have died because of in-ring accidents, the last prominent wrestler to suffer such a fate in North America was Mike DiBiase, who suffered a heart attack during a 1969 match in Lubbock, Texas. DiBiase's son, Ted, was a WWF headliner in the late 1980s who has since retired.
MAT PAST GIVES PRESENT NO FUTURE
(Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, May 30, 1999)
By Bob Molinaro
During a pro wrestling career that spanned six decades and at least as many continents, Norfolk's Lou Thesz figures he must have suffered 200 fractures.
Accidents happen, he'll tell you. Lou just shook off those broken bones.
In the '30s, he started out on wrestling's backroads, not always knowing where his next meal would come from. There were days when he and his partners pulled to the side of the road, hopped a fence and foraged a farmer's field for the kind of corn they feed horses.
Hunger? Thesz shook it off.
Last week, Thesz learned that Owen hart, 33, was dead after suffering a 70-foot fall while being lowered in a harness from the ceiling of a Kansas City arena during one of those breathtakingly absurd pay-per-view wrassling shos.
Lou cannot shake this off. The warhorse of wrestling is confused and angry, in part because Hart's death was personal. As a teenager, Thesz wrestled with Hart's father, Stu. He's remained friends with the family. A few years ago, he even trained Owen Hart.
No one in the world is more serious about professional wrestling or more at a loss to explain what has happened to his beloved sport than the 83-year-old Thesz.
"I don't think I have ever felt as old or as out of touch as I do today."
So began the most recent commentary on The Lou Thesz Press, an Internet feature that can be found on scoopscentral.com, a wrestling website.
In the piece that followed Hart's death, Thesz expressed personal remorse for ignoring the current state of wrassling. His stomach just couldn't take the cartoon nonsense the WWF has been pumping out for the get-a-life shut-ins who have made ring burlesque a TV bonanza.
"I don't mean to be unkind," Thesz said Friday from his Ocean View home, "but I don't have to tell you about the audience. They're not too bright."
Thesz tuned out long ago, but went real easy on his public criticism of the product. "I have told myself," he wrote on the website, "they were just making a living and giving the crowd what they wanted."
Thesz understands the importance of a good show; he wrestled Gorgeous George in the '50s. Wrassling without blowhards, villaisn and campy storylines is gym class. But what Thesz cannot abide is "the language, vulgarity, stupidity and futility of it all." Can anyone blame him?
He wrote: "It has taken the death of a friend's son to make me admit how sick the industry I devoted my life to has become."
In conversation, Thesz calls today's ring theatrics "choreographed tumbling." He says, "You can watch professional wrestling for five minutes or five hours and you won't see one wrestling move."
He recalls a conversation he had a year or so ago with Vince McMahon, demagogue of the vulgarity currently in vogue.
"He said, 'Lou, I think you're going to like this; we're going back to wrestling.'" Thesz said. "Well, it got worse. He just tells you what you want to hear. Anything to make a buck."
Before, Lou could shake it off. The buffoonery,
he'd tell himself, was none of his business. "But it is my business,"
he now writes, anger and frustration bubbling to the surface, "the only
business I have ever loved."
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 516
A SPORT IS SEEN DEGENERATING
(Boston Globe, May 27, 1999)
By Colin Nickerson
CALGARY, Alberta -- Owen Hart came to the mat as a birthright, the baby boy of the legendary ''first family'' of professional wrestling. The ascent of Canada's Hart dynasty stretches over much of the century and the modern history of a sweaty contest that has devolved from sport to freakish entertainment worth billions of dollars.
But the tale took a tragic twist Sunday when Hart, 34, died in a 60-foot plunge as he prepared to swoop down on the wrestling ring on a cable-and-hook contrivance suspended from the ceiling of a sports arena in Missouri. The flying entrance had been meant to wow the bellowing audience at a sold-out ''Over the Edge'' World Wrestling Federation event in Kansas City.
Death was an unnerving deviation from the hyperviolent spectacle called professional wrestling - whose theatric duels offer fans lots of thrills, but few surprises.
Never mind the looniness of the stunt that killed Owen Hart. Most shocking in the minds of many was that he was the good guy, fighting under the moniker ''Blue Blazer,'' the clear-eyed champ who before bouts sternly enjoined kids to ''say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and never ever swear.''
Said Martha Hart, his high school sweetie and wife of 10 years: ''Owen really lived like that, as clean as they come. He loved his family, he loved our children. We had a storybook life. ... He was not a reckless person.''
In the costume pageant of professional wrestling, good guys seldom come to bad endings. And, if lose they occasionally must, they most surely aren't supposed to be brought low so pointlessly, slammed to the mat by mere gravity instead of a masked supervillain.
Moreover, the Blue Blazer was a Hart, and the Harts are winners fabled across the wrestling world. ''Harts are supposed to be invincible,'' said Paul Jay, the producer of a documentary film, ''Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows,'' about Owen's older brother, Bret. ''The family is a living legend.''
Bret ''Hitman'' Hart remains the most famous of eight brothers and four sisters, all of whom followed their domineering dad, Stu, now 84 but still presiding over the Calgary-based family empire, into the tawdry realm of pro wrestling, either as fighters, trainers, referees, or spouses of wrestlers.
Owen was the plucky baby brother, the come-from-behind kid who, after years in the ring, had finally wrassled out a low-key reputation in his own right. He was the stolid, stubborn strongman, never quite at ease with the flamboyant stagecraft of a career he followed mainly because his father had told him there could be no other for a Hart.
''I wanted to be a phys ed teacher. I wrestled only to appease my father,'' he told the magazine Saturday Night in a 1993 interview. ''I was compelled to get into the ring. Once I started, there was the pressure of my family name.''
There's no business quite like pro wrestling.
It's a sport that is not a sport but a series of performances stretching contest to contest, season to season, into a long drama - albeit one with plot lines simple enough to put comic books in a league with Shakespeare.
The bad guys sneer, curse, and strut villainously while employing cruel kicks, hellish holds, and sneaky jabs. They also give the middle finger, fondle their crotches, and pretend to urinate on their opponents or ringside fans.
Referees gaze blankly into the middle distance as female accomplices of the wrestlers suggestively straddle ropes and flaunt their breasts to distract their guy's opponent. The good fellows, meanwhile, seem not to have a clue - but cheerfully wreak vicious mayhem as they grapple with their sinister foes.
It's all show, and some critics say it's a sick show. But if professional wrestling is condemned, dismissed, or ridiculed by many, it is also followed by millions of passionate fans across North America and beyond.
''Laugh all you want, but lots of people love this sport,'' said Calgary sportscaster and family friend Ed Whelan. ''And they love the Hart family.''
That was plain this week as thousands of fans descended on Calgary in an outpouring of grief.
''I just wanted to show the Hart family how deeply we're going to miss Owen,'' said Bethany Gill, 27, of Taunton, Mass., who with her boyfriend and sister drove nonstop across the continent to place flowers near Hart House, the family's landmark residence in this oil boomtown on Canada's western prairie.
Beneath Hart House lies ''The Dungeon,'' where older Harts trained younger Harts in the arcane arts of legholds and headlocks. The school became notorious for its emphasis on ''submission'' wrestling, in which the idea is not just to defeat an opponent through greater strength or dexterity but to inflict pain. The Harts' academy turned out many of the top grapplers of recent decades.
The family's ascent to wrestling's sweat-soaked stratosphere started with Stu Hart, born in 1915 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. An all-around athlete, the patriarch-to-be played pro football with Alberta's Edmonton Eskimos in the 1930s, but really shined as an amateur wrestler, becoming Canada's national champion in 1940.
He was considered a contender for an Olympic gold medal, but World War II forced cancellation of the games. After the war, Stu Hart headed for New York, where he wrestled professionally and, in 1947, also found a bride, Helen Smith, daughter of track star Henry J. Smith.
They returned to Canada, settling in Calgary, where the senior Hart launched a career as sports promoter by creating ''Stampede Wrestling,'' a hugely popular road show that staged bouts across Western Canada from the late 1940s until 1988. Stampede Wrestling made the leap to television in 1957, a time when pro wrestling still had vestiges of real sport.
Ironically, Helen despised wrestling from the start, according to family friends. But she had a flair for numbers, and she shrewdly handled the financial side of the business while her husband stuck to flashier stuff.
Stu Hart mercilessly drilled his eight boys in wrestling technique, while the girls were encouraged to date wrestlers or bodybuilders. The father hoped his sons would become amateurs of Olympic caliber, but the money was on the pro side - and that's where they all drifted with varying degrees of renown.
''He wanted every one of those kids to follow in his footsteps,'' recalled Whelan, the family friend who served as announcer for Stampede Wrestling events.
Owen was thrust into the ring at age 4 and never found his way out. ''He was definitely getting concerned about safety, and planned to retire in two years,'' said Martha, who said her husband doted on their two children, Oje, 7, and Athena, 3. ''We were planning to move to a dream home in Elbow Valley.''
Despite the theatrics dominating professional wrestling, the Hart boys were trained to be serious athletes and bodybuilders, not just grandstanders. If Owen was happy enough to dress up in silly suits and mug for TV cameras, he also possessed genuine skills. ''He grew up with a certain style of wrestling, the art form of wrestling,'' Dave Meltzer, editor of Wrestling Observer magazine, told Canada's National Post newspaper. ''He recognized that wrestling was a business and more popular than ever.''
According to a study by Frank Ashley, professor of sports at Texas A&M University, televised professional wrestling captures a weekly worldwide audience of 40 million people. More than 70 percent are adults over age 18, and 30 percent have middle-class incomes of more than $40,000 a year.
The wrestling industry brings in $1.1 billion a year, much of it generated through TV pay-for-view. There were about 18,000 people sitting in the stands at Kansas City's Kemper Arena on the night Owen Hart was killed, but nearly 1 million were watching on cable television.
''We compete with Hollywood for entertainment,'' Vince McMahon, president of the World Wrestling Federation, told the Associated Press.
More significantly, the World Wrestling Federation competes ferociously with archrival World Championship Wrestling, owned by media mogul Ted Turner. That competition has engendered a drive for increasingly outlandish stunts.
Stunts like the one that killed Owen Hart.
His sister, Ellie Hart, attributes the tragedy to the scramble for audience share.
''He died performing a dumb circus act that shouldn't have been part of wrestling,'' she said. ''My poor brother was sacrificed for the TV ratings.''
Brother Bret also blames the audience's lust for blood.
''Wrestling fans have become like wild dogs,'' said the Hitman. ''They just clamor for more and more.''
DEATH IN THE RING
(Newsweek, June 7, 1999)
By T. Trent Gegax and Jerry Adler
If there is any small consolation to be taken from the death last week of World Wrestling Federation star Owen Hart, who fell from the rafters of Kansas City, Mo.'s Kemper Arena in an aborted stunt, it is that he died like a true wrestler: pissed off at the world. "I know he hated dying this way," his brother Bret--also a wrestler, like the six other Hart brothers and their four brothers-in-law--told NEWSWEEK.
"I'm sure when he was 30 feet from the mat he was thinking, Here I am falling in this stupid outfit, in front of all these fans that don't give a s--t about me or my family, and this is the way I'm going to go. It's just so cruel." He probably wouldn't have been surprised, either, that his demise in front of 16,300 fans failed to stop the show.
According to WWF spokesman Jim Byrne, "The performers wanted to continue the show. It was the highest tribute they could have paid Owen." But Bret Hart's explanation is simpler: "Pay-per-view comes first." To cancel the remaining matches might have entailed giving people their money back.
Hart's death, at the age of 33, presented a rare opportunity for the world of pro wrestling to reflect on its values, message and contribution to society, which it seemed only too happy to pass up. At a lachrymose tribute on the following night's "Raw Is War" broadcast, reigning superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin gave the crowd the finger in Hart's honor, then movingly smashed together a couple of beer cans.
The WWF Web site solicited fans for contributions to Hart's favorite charity--a children's hospital in his native Calgary--but Byrne said he didn't know if the organization itself would make a donation, and refused to comment on whether the federation provides wrestlers with life insurance. He also said it was premature to consider a suggestion by wrestler turned governor Jesse Ventura that the WWF performers should enlist in the stuntman's union, which would give them leverage in improving safety. "We just want to make sure that appropriate tribute is given to Owen this week," Byrne said.
The accident occurred as the debris from the previous match was still being swept from the ring, in preparation for Hart's match against "The Godfather," a burly, corn-rowed figure who poses as a pimp and surrounds himself with an entourage of "ho's."
Hart, 5 feet 11 and a muscular 227 pounds, was in his Blue Blazer costume-mask, cape and sky-blue feathers-a character meant to be sinister and enigmatic. Few spectators were even aware of him dangling high above the ring, hanging from a catwalk by a cable and harness. Suddenly, according to police, a stagehand on the catwalk heard the "ping" of the mechanism that was supposed to release the cable once Hart reached the ground. A second later, he tumbled 90 feet to the ring, striking a turnbuckle with his head and landing on his back.
Since this was the WWF, "a lot of people thought it was a stunt," says Alan Schmelzle, the arena's general manager. "There was kind of a buzz in the crowd. They thought the show had started again." Then came a sobering announcement by WWF emcee Jim Ross: "Folks, we've got a problem here."
The police say they have found no signs of tampering or foul play, and speculate that Hart might have triggered the release accidentally, perhaps by catching part of his costume in it. His family, though, wonders why Owen had to trust his life to a single cable.
"Where's the backup?" asked his oldest brother, Smith Hart. "You should have two or three backups. Even circus performers have safety nets." The WWF's Byrne counters that there was nothing especially risky in the stunt Hart was attempting when he died; it's done all the time on the stage.
Hart was the youngest of his parents' 12 children, and the only one still up on that stage, although Bret, a.k.a. The Hitman, has not formally retired. His father, Stu, was Canadian amateur wrestling champion in 1940 and later a promoter in the western United States and Canada, before the WWF bought out most of the regional circuits. Owen, who learned his trade in Stu's legendary basement gym, also became a top-ranked amateur wrestler. But there's no career in wrestling as a sport, of course. As a professional, Owen was a proficient acrobat with plausibly bulging biceps, handsome enough to be a hero but willing to take the heat of being a villain if that's what the script demanded. He worked up a ferocious--although phony--rivalry with his brother, which their mother was happy to promote by sobbing for the cameras.
"This is a vicious, backstabbing, ass-kissing industry on its best day," said one person close to the WWF's rival league, World Championship Wrestling. "But nobody ever said a bad thing about Owen Hart."
Along the way, his brother says, Owen developed a deep loathing for the WWF and its president, Vince McMahon Jr. This is an attitude McMahon, who likes to insert himself as a character in the ongoing drama of his cast, has been known to encourage. Feuds make good box office. But Bret insists his brother was genuinely horrified at the WWF's descent from the blithe, goofy mayhem of Hulk Hogan, its 1980s-era hero, to the volcanic, 360-degree hostility emanating from Austin.
"Almost overnight," says Hart, himself a five-time WWF champion, "Vince turned it into strippers and this rabid-dog mentality, like 'Let's see who can hit the other guy harder with a metal chair'." Suddenly, wrestlers began acknowledging their fans by pointing at their crotches and bellowing "suck it." When it came to his own children--a boy, 7, and a girl, 3--Owen refused to let them watch the WWF.
But the money was good--high six figures for a mid-card performer like Hart--and, after all, someone whose expertise is in flinging himself around a ring in a blue feathered cape doesn't exactly have a lot of career options. When the WWF says jump, wrestlers jump, even if it's 90 feet to the ground.
"We were just two guys who wanted to pay off our houses and come home," Bret says. In fact, last Friday was the day Owen and his wife, Martha, were set to move into their long-anticipated Calgary dream house, and he was looking ahead a couple of years to when he could hang up his spangles and sequins for good. "It's really very sad," says Bret. "He was in the home stretch."
HOW LOW CAN VINCE McMAHON GO?
(New York Post, Friday, June 4, 1999)
By Phil Mushnick
How low can Vince McMahon go for the entertainment pleasure of our desensitized young? Well, rather than trying to minimize the incidence of death among his pro wrestlers, the WWF boss continues to exploit their deaths to sustain huge ratings for his USA Network TV shows.
Monday night's show included footage of pro wrestlers outside a Calgary funeral home, where services were conducted for Owen Hart, killed eight days earlier while performing a stunt during a WWF pay-per-view show.
Hart's widow says she insisted that the WWF not air footage from the funeral. "Not only did they disrespect me," she told the Calgary Sun, "they didn't care."
Martha Hart has been critical of the WWF both for its increasingly vulgar content and its dangerous stunts. "Owen was not a tacky, sleazy wrestler," she said, "and I didn't want the footage [from his funeral] aired on a WWF show."
Not only did the pay-per-view show continue after Hart died, minutes after he was rushed from the Kemper Arena in an ambulance to be pronounced dead on arrival, the show saw McMahon rushed from the arena in an ambulance as part of an act.
The next night, McMahon neither postponed nor canceled his USA show in order to allow his wrestlers to grieve in private. Instead, he had them grieve on national TV as the improvised theme of a show that already had sold out the 20,000-seat Kiel Center in St. Louis.
Among those who appeared to pay tribute to Hart was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the WWF's biggest draw. Although Hart was popular among his colleagues, Hart and Austin did not get along. But McMahon saved Austin for the end of the two-hour "Owen Hart Tribute" in order to keep his audience in place, thus maximizing the ratings.
SABLE SUES WWF FOR $110 MILLION
(Associated Press, Friday, June 4, 1999)
BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut -- Pro wrestling champion Sable is suing the World Wrestling Federation for $110 million, complaining it wanted her to participate in a lesbian storyline, expose her breasts on TV and appear in sexually degrading photos.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court, charges that professional wrestling has become increasingly "obscene, titillating, vulgar and unsafe.''
Known for her waist-length hair and scanty outfits, Sable, whose real name is Rena Mero, said the WWF stripped her of her championship belt by scripting her defeat in a televised "Monday Night Raw'' match three weeks ago.
Her downfall, she claims, came after she repeatedly refused to have her gown torn off on national television, exposing her breasts.
"I am surprised by all of the actions,'' said Ed Kaufman, a senior vice president and general counsel for Stamford-based Titan Sports, the parent company of the WWF. He said Titan Sports has been in contact with Mrs. Mero's lawyer in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
During her nearly three years with the WWF, Mrs. Mero went from valet for her real-life wrestling husband, Marc Mero, to the WWF women's champion. She recently was featured on a Playboy cover and in a photo spread, and has been getting guest roles on television.
In an upcoming TV Guide cover story, she said there is a difference between posing for Playboy and exposing herself on television.
"In the middle of a wrestling arena where they're serving alcohol and there are screaming fans -- including children -- in the front row, I don't feel like that is the proper place to be exposed,'' she said. "Posing for Playboy for me was a classy and tasteful thing to do.''
The lawsuit claims negligence, breach of
contract, unfair trade practices and intentional infliction of emotional
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 517
KINISKI PUTS TITLE ON LINE
(Tampa Times, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1969)
Dory Funk, Jr. of Amarillo, Tex., will challenge Gene Kiniski for the world heavyweight wrestling championship in one of seven title matches on tonight's big Gasparilla card at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
Funk is one of the outstanding young wrestlers in the mat sport today. Dory made a quick, but very successful tour of Florida last December. His home base is Amarillo. He is a graduate of West Texas State University.
Two teams of blue-masked Infernos will vie for the world tag team championship tonight. The team currently in possession of the belts is managed by J.C. Dykes; the challenging team has been seen more frequently in the Tampa area of late.
The Missouri Mauler will put the Southern heavyweight championship on the line against Jack Brisco, a former national collegiate champion from Oakland State University.
Nick Kozak will challenge the Great Malenko for the brass knuckles trophy, indicative of pro wrestling's ruggedest individual. The use of the fist is not only permitted, but emphasized in brass knuckles competition.
Joe Scarpa and the Gladiator will attempt to take the Florida tag team championship from the Medics. Tarzan Tyler will challenge Hans Mortier for the Florida heavyweight title.
Sherri Lee will try for the world women's title as she challenges Fabulous Moolah. Match time is 8:30.
FUNK NEW MAT WORLD RULER
(Tampa Times, February 12, 1969)
Dory Funk Jr. of Amarillo, Tex., defeated Gene Kiniski for the world heavyweight wrestling championship last night at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
A packed house of 6,000 cheered wildly as Funk, a 27-year-old graduate of West Texas State University, took the measure of Kiniski with a spinning toe hold after 27 minutes of action.
Dory Funk Sr., the new champion's father, was on hand to congratulate his son on a fine victory. Dory Sr., still an active wrestler himself, perfected the spinning toe hold many years ago.
Kiniski won the title from Lou Thesz in St. Louis in January of 1966, and defended it in Florida on numerous occasions.
Asked how he felt about winning the championship, Funk said, "It's great! This is what every wrestler dreams about -- what he works hard in hopes of achieving all his life."
Funk will now be obliged to assume all contractual obligations for title matches which had been signed by Kiniski, meaning the new champ will have little time to call his own for awhile. Kiniski was one of the sport's most active champions and Funk Jr. says he will be no less so.
The world tag team championship changed hands as the challengers, the masked Infernos, defeated J.C. Dykes' Inferno twosome, the former champs. Dykes had called his team's opponents "imposters" and other, even less complimentary names, and had predicted an easy win.
Young Jack Brisco of Blackwell, Okla., won the Southern heavyweight champion by defeating the Missouri Mauler. Brisco, a former national collegiate champion, spotted the Mauler some 50 pounds, but outmaneuvered his massive opponent. Jack used a hold known as a "small package" to defeat the Missourian.
The Great Malenko defeated Nick Kozak to retain the brass knuckles title. Kozak won three consecutive falls, but was unable to answer the bell after dropping the fourth to Malenko.
The brass knuckles match was the only even of more than one fall duration, due to the special rules governing this type of match. Other title bouts were scheduled for one fall, with one hour time limits, by special permission of the National Wrestling Alliance.
The Gladiator and Joe Scarpa made an impressive, though unsuccessful, attempt to take the Florida tag team belts from the masked Medics. Joe was counted out while applying a sleeper hold to Dr. Ken Ramey outside the ring. Ramey had to be carried to his dressing room.
A real battle of the giants saw Florida heavyweight champion Hans Mortier prevail over Tarzan Tyler, the challenger. Each man weighed in at somewhere in the neighborhood of 265 pounds.
Fabulous Moolah, the world women's titleholder, is still champion after putting down a game challenge by Sherri Lee in the opening event.
STU HART: AN ACE OF A PROMOTER
(Ring Wrestling, November 1978)
By Tom Burke
The sport of professional wrestling has many fine promoters in its ranks. The current crop today consists of many second generation matchmakers that continue on the family tradition by promoting wrestling in their respective areas.
Stu Hart is not a man that was a recipient of his wrestling territory via the passing of a family member. His wrestling territory began after the end of World War Two and has flourished from one to two provinces and one state. This area and his fine wrestling promoting talents have given him the name as the "Wrestling Czar of Canada."
Before Hart took command of being the famous wrestling promoter that he is, the Edmonton native was a very good athlete. He was undefeated in the amateur ranks as a wrestler and won the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Championship. He was also a member of the famed Edmonton Eskimo football team and did very well on the gridiron. However, he was not satisfied with being a member of the football team. He wanted more.
He went to New York City and was taken under the wing of the late, great Joe "Toots" Mondt. It was while in the Big Apple that he became proficient as a professional wrestler. He learned his trade well and started to get semi and main events in the many arenas in and around New York City.
It was at the same time that television was becoming a part of the way of American life. TV matches were presented live in those early years and it so happened that Stu Hart and a lady wrestling fan would become part of the annals of professional wrestling. The place was the Winter Garden Arena in Bronx, New York, in the late 1940s.
Stu Hart was wrestling in the semi-main event against another well established star of that era. The whole wrestling card was being televised with Dennis James as the commentator for live action and interviews. During the course of the match, Stu Hart landed on the floor of the arena.
As he got up and proceeded to lift himself up to the ring apron a woman from ringside got out of her chair and jabbed Hart on his rump. The TV cameras had picked it up and millions of wrestling fans saw the debut of "Hatpin Mary" at the expense of Stu Hart.
Hart recalls those days with great fondness. He remembers wrestling against such stars as: Baron Michele Leone, the famous Dusek and Zaharias brothers, the late Bibber McCoy, Lou Thesz, Rebel Bob Russell, Dutch Hefner, Gino Garibaldi, Buddy Rogers, Bobby Stewart, Tony Lanza, The Angel and many other great mat men.
During those years in the New York City area he held great respect for Toots Mondt, the famous wrestling promoter for the East Coast. It was under the Mondt eye and teaching that Hart learned the promoting trade. Little by little the matches became less and less for Stu. He began to work in the office with Toots and in 1948 he packed his bags and returned to his native Canada.
It was 1948 when Stu Hart opened up his wrestling office in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The war was over and the economy was good and wrestling was just right for the area. The sport went over like a firecracker on the Fourth of July. Soon Hart added other towns to his wrestling office. In a span of a few years, Stu had opened up all the major cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. A few years after that was accomplished he was invited to promote in a number of cities in Montana, where he continues to promote.
In those early years as a promoter the life line of the office was made up of established talent and a stable of newcomers. As the promotion became a success and the name of the promotion became Foothills Athletic Club, the reputation of the office of giving that much-needed break to youngsters was getting around. The Hart promotion has no doubt started more wrestling talent than any other office since its start and continues to give that break to many.
Some of the boys that go their start with the Foothills Athletic Club are: Stan Stasiak, Joe Blanchard, Bearcat Wright, Dale Roberts, Nikolai Volkoff, the late Luther Lindsay, Bulldog Brower, Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie, Reggie Parks, Roy Shire (now an NWA promoter in San Francisco), Greg Valentine, Leo and Bobby Burke, Larry Lane, Larry Hennig and, most recently, Stu Hart's own sons, Smith, Bruce and Keith. These are only a handful of the boys that were given that important break in professional wrestling that is needed.
The Hart organization has had very close ties with Joint Promotions of England as well as other well known international wrestling bodies. The Foothills Athletic Club Promotions have brought over such top rated talent for exclusive debut appearances in North America as: Lord Al Hayes, Kendo Nagasaki, Black Angus, Les Thornton, Steve Wright, Dave Morgan and Billy Robinson. All these great British wrestling imports made their North American debut on a Stu Hart promotion. Robinson has made a great impression since he made his debut here in 1969.
Promoter Stu Hart recently informed this writer that he believes that the best from the United Kingdom is currently wrestling in his territory. He is Tommy Billington, an 18-year-old that has done very well in his two years as a professional wrestler. He won the British and European lightweight championships in 1977. Stu says that Tommy, better known as the Dynamite Kid, will go right to the top in the coming years.
Another organization that the Hart group works with is that of the International Wrestling Enterprises of Japan. Former wrestler Tokyo Joe is the talent agent and lives in Calgary, the home base of the Foothills promotions. Thus, there is a trickle of talent from Japan throughout the year in Calgary. Many of the top stars from Japan stop by and say hello to Tokyo Joe and thus will get booked on the weekly Friday nite card in Calgary.
A promoter has to be wise and attuned to the times. Promoter Hart is just that. He has brought in such novelty events as wrestling bears, female and male midgets, Indian rubbermen, strong men like the late Hercules Romero, Great Antonio, Doug Hepburn, the Baillargeon brothers, the two famous wrestling hypnotists, Dr. Jerry Graham and Timmy Geohagen. Probably the most unusual event that has ever been on any wrestling card is a wrestling tiger that was on the circuit for awhile.
Nearly every former world heavyweight boxing champion has graced the Hart circuit as a special referee at one time or another. Some of the third men that held the boxing crown: Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Jack Sharkey, Ezzard Charles and Max Baer. Other notable boxing personalities that have refereed for Hart have been Barney Ross and Yvon Durelle.
In July of every year promoter Hart puts on his best talents and puts on a wrestling card in association with the famous Calgary Stampede. This event has been going on for over a dozen years. Thse cards are filled with talent from around the world. The highlight of the card is the appearance of the National Wrestling Alliance champion. Some of the title matches that have been held in Calgary during the Stampede have been: Dory Funk Jr. vs. Billy Robinson in 1969, Archie Gouldie vs. Terry Funk in 1978.
Like all wrestling promotions, there is a recognized championship belt that is defended in the territory. In 1968, Promoter Stu Hart held an open invitation tournament to any and all wrestlers for a championship belt to be representing the heavyweight championship of North America. The tournament brought in many great wrestling stars and was won by The Stomper when he beat Pat O'Connor in the finals in February, 1968.
The belt has been worn by many men since and some of the former champions have been: The Stomper, Gilles "The Fish" Poisson, Mad Dog Martel, Leo Burke, Gene Kiniski, Pierre Martel, Tor Kamata and a host of others. The list is long and impressive and to list all the titleholders would take a full page.
The Hart organization was built with a lot of hard work and love to become one of the strongest wrestling booking offices in the North American continent. Thus it is no question when the name Stu Hart comes up and he is called the "Wrestling Czar of Canada.
THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
(Rocky Mountain News, June 4, 1999)
Without Zane Bresloff, there might not be a wrestling war today.
When World Championship Wrestling was trying to change its perception as a minor-league promotion in 1994, the group targeted two key members of the World Wrestling Federation: Hulk Hogan and Bresloff, a Littleton resident who shared the WWF's arena booking responsibilities through his Cherry Creek-based Awesome Promotions.
Hogan and other WWF defectors -- notably Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall -- provided the star power WCW was sorely lacking, while Bresloff helped the promotion gain access to arenas and markets that were previously unavailable because of WWF strangleholds. For the first time, WCW could book the best buildings in such major markets as New York City (Nassau Coliseum in Long Island), Chicago (Rosemont Horizon) and Boston (Fleet Center).
While momentum in the rivalry between the promotions has swung both ways over the past five years, there's no question WCW has gained the inroads it sought with Bresloff's hiring. WCW generated a promotion-record $34 million in attendance revenue last year and could match that figure in 1999.
"In 1994, WCW was drawing about 1,500 to 2000 people paid per show, with the strength being in the South and nothing everywhere else," Bresloff said. "We reached our heights last year, but we've still got a goal to set for this year even though the late spring was rough for various reasons."
Bresloff, 51, was the first WWF promoter in the Denver area, helping the group gain a foothold against the now-defunct American Wrestling Association. Bresloff promoted the local closed-circuit showing of Wrestlemania I in 1985 and the first WWF show at the Denver Coliseum, drawing 3,000 fans for a card headlined by Barry Windham-Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik-Nicolai Volkoff.
As the WWF increased in popularity, so did Bresloff's role. Bresloff was flown to Pontiac, Mich. to promote Wrestlemania III, which became the largest indoor crowd (93,000-plus fans) ever to witness a pro wrestling show in the U.S.
But on the heels of various scandals that rocked the WWF in 1992, Bresloff was given fewer shows to promote. When the WWF dramatically reduced the number of its live shows to less than 10 a month, Bresloff decided to jump to WCW.
"I didn't see any upside staying in the WWF," said Bresloff, who promoted sports and concerts in Chicago before moving to Denver in the early 1980s. "WCW came to me with an offer where I would not only have arena rights to the entire country but also the world-wide rights. It was a challenge, but I've always liked a challenge."
Bresloff knows he now faces another one with WCW badly slumping and the WWF regaining prominence as the nation's top promotion.
"We know what our mistakes are, which are not Awesome (Promotions) mistakes but WCW mistakes," Bresloff said. "They're doing everything to correct it. It's the storylines and the misuse of talent.
"They need to start pushing the younger guys. It's like with any sport. If the Denver Broncos are 4-12 with a bunch of 10-year veterans, you've got to start trading them and get the rookies playing. With wrestling, it's no different."
But even with WCW's problems, Bresloff doesn't see his business falling into a sleeper hold. Bresloff edged the WWF for exclusive promoting rights for the new Pepsi Center in Denver (a Nov. 29 debut date for WCW is scheduled) and is hoping for a massive crowd Dec. 27 for a show at the Houston Astrodome billed as the final WCW event of the century.
"The kids are into the new elements of wrestling," Bresloff said. "The females, the music and, to an extent, the violence. They're all into the storylines. They are watching."
Questions and answers
Q: A few months ago on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, WCW's Bill Goldberg challenged the WWF's Steve Austin. Is that match ever going to happen? -- Garrett Duman and Josh Dorsey, Englewood, Col.
A: Only if Goldberg jumps to the WWF or Austin
defects to WCW. Goldberg was told to make the grandstand challenge by WCW
matchmaker Kevin Nash.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 518
WASHBURN HELPS SHIKAT IN TRAINING
(Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, May 27, 1930)
By Matt Ring
A week behind schedule, Dick Shikat settled down to serious training yesterday for the defense of his title against Jim Londos June 6 and wrestled for an hour with George Tragos and Jack Washburn in a newly pitched ring at Belmont Mansion in Fairmount Park.
An effort to patch up the champion's differences with "Toots" Mondt, his manager, was being made by Promoter Ray Fabiani while Shikat was going through his first workout.
Mondt was reached by telephone in New York and said he would come here today to talk things over with the promoter, who plans to take him out to Shikat's "camp."
The champion and his manager parted company last Friday night at Richmond, Va., after a row over a proposed match in New York. Shikat, having wrestled in four places during the week, refused to go to New York, after having been "booked" there by Mondt, and came to Philadelphia instead.
"Toots" has a three-year contract with Dick and is credited with having steered his 220-pound German charge to his present position at the top of the heavyweight wrestling field. Although yesterday's workout was held without his knowledge, he is responsible for the choice of Shikat's sparring partners.
Tragos, a Greek, is supposed to be an expert on Londos' style of grappling, having engaged in many tumbling sessions with his more famous compatriot. Washburn, a Chicago burly who has performed often before in preliminary matches of Arena mat shows, was chief sparring partner for Londos when Jim was training for his disastrous battle with Shikat last August.
Both are big and strong enough to stand the gaff of daily tussles with the champion.
Shikat showed signs of his arduous campaign last week when he climbed into the ring yesterday, but plans to do a lot of resting between workouts and expects to be at top condition on June 6.
Londos, whose drills on the Riviera fairgrounds at East Falls, bordering Fairmount Park's East River Drive, have attracted crowds of 2,000 and 3,000 during the last few days, has John Maxos, a fellow Greek, as sparring partner and masseur. After each session on the mat, Jim takes a rubdown lasting from forty-five minutes to an hour in his dressing room. He is more attentive to his person than a Directoire coquette.
WRESTLING ON TAP TONIGHT AT ARMORY
(Hagerstown Herald-Mail, June 9, 1961)
Vittorio (Argentine) Apollo returns to Hagerstown for a second appearance on a State Armory wrestling show scheduled tonight.
Apollo, who hails from Argentina, takes on Bob (Big O) Orton of Cayota, Kan., in the feature bout on a five-match card.
Apollo and Orton will wrestle one fall to a finish. There'll be a time limit of one hour.
Another one-fall bout will send The Angel against the Mexico City grappler, Miguel Torres.
An Australian tag team encounter finds Taro Sakuro and Haruo Sasaki of Japan facing Mark Lewin and Don Curtis of Buffalo, N.Y. This will be a best two-of-three falls affair.
Thirty-minute prelims call for Larry Simon to meet Arnold Skaaland and Red Grupe to battle Bill Zbyszko. Grupe is a German and Zbyszko hails from Poland. First bout is at 8:30.
BIG CROWD ON HAND FOR MATCHES
(Hagerstown Herald-Mail, June 10, 1961)
A capacity crowd was on hand last night at the Hagerstown Armory as professional wrestling returned in a blaze of action.
The heat was on as the action-packed card exploded in an exciting evening of grappling fireworks which had the fans on their feet most of the time.
The sensational, undefeated Vittorio "Argentine" Apollo met Bob "Big O" Orton in the main event and with a dazzling, lightning attack won over the blond ruffian from kansas in 14 minutes when referee Ed Blake disqualified Orton after he was on the receiving end of several rabbit punches in a wild and frantic match.
The co-feature unveiled a "new look" in the grappling wars as the once-scientific team of Mark Lewin and Don Curtis turned villain with a vicious and savage attack against the Japanese team of Taro Sakuro and Haruo Sasaki. Don Curtis gained the first fall in 15 minutes with a body press on Sasaki. Lewin came back in 10 additional minutes with a fall over Sasaki to gain the verdict in two straight falls in a bitter mayhem-producing battle.
In supporting matches, The Angel disposed of the Mexican bull, Miguel Torres, in 9 minutes with a reverse back breaker submission hold.
Bill Zbyszko of Poland gained a victory over the former heavyweight champ, Big Mike Mazurki, by disqualification after 15 minutes when Mazurki failed to heed repeated warnings from referee Blake.
Arnold Skaaland and the German giant, Karl Schmelling, battled 20 minutes to a draw in the opening match of the night.
ABE (KING KONG) KASHEY OBITUARY
(Los Angeles Times, September 25, 1965)
KASHEY, Abe (King Kong), well-known wrestler, passed away Sept. 24; survived by wife, Margaret, 2 sons, Alfred of Arizona, and Robert of Stanton, Calif., 1 daughter, Deloris Walden of Downey, 8 grandchildren, 3 brothers, Nisib of New Jersey, Harry and John of Pennsylvania, 2 sisters, Mrs. Adell Azar of Florida, and Mrs. David John of Ohio.
Trisagion services 8 p.m. Sunday, at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, 2300 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles. Services 11 a.m., Monday, at the Cathedral, Biby & Belyea, South Gate, directors. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Abe (King Kong) Kashey Memorial Fund, St. Luke's Orthodox Cathedral, 702 N. Minter, Santa Ana, Calif., of which he was president of the Church Council. (St. Paul and Minneapolis papers, please copy).
(ED. NOTE -- This remarkably silly piece was first reproduced in Tom Burke's Global Wrestling News Service for May, 1983.)
WRESTLERS PUT ON MATCHLESS EVENT
(Bellingham, Wash., Herald, Apr. 13, 1983)
By Cindy Kaufman
The Sheik, who is not a nasty guy, was late for work last night.
By the time he found Meridian High School and donned heavy socks, boots with curling and pointy toes, knee pads, wrist tape, black tights with "oil" stitched across the fanny in broad, white letters, and robe and headdress and came out on the gymnasium floor, someone else had already wrestled in his place in the ring.
But promoter Dutch Savage found another 200-pound-plus man in tights and wrist tape and a sixth bout was added to Tuesday night's card.
These were professional athletes. This was Big Time Wrestling, and this was a community event, meaning dollars for the high school and high excitement for the fans of varying degrees of fervor who crammed into bleachers and ringside seats.
The night's official main event would be an unlimited bout between a good guy, 250-pound Billy Jack of Portland, and a bad guy, Rip "The Crippler" Oliver, a 246-pound wrestler out of Florida. The unofficial main event would be the crowd.
But first things first. These wrestlers are not frauds, said Savage, who ended a 25-year career in American and Canadian rings in 1976 and has done promotional work for the National Wrestling Alliance ever since.
"Any one of them could take your head off for you and put it on your foot. Our credibility is beyond reproach."
These people have to be heavyweights and they have to be good, said Savage, adding that the bouts generated $230,000 for high schools last year in Washington alone.
"All members of the 61-year-old organization, based in Tampa and St. Louis, must have, at least, two years of varsity wrestling experience at accredited NAIA, NCAA or NIT schools or we won't look at them," he said. "They have to be heavyweight, yeah. You can't be a light-heavyweight -- they'll eat you up."
A solid 170-pound or 180-pound athlete might enter wrestling, if he's big-boned, at least 6-2 and can be fattened up by 40 pounds, Savage said.
A wrestler has to take punishment -- Savage said he has had more than 400 sutures in his career, 20 concussions, and that he has 27 hairline fractures in his left ankle alone.
And there are no good guys and bad guys in wrestling, he said.
"That's a fantasy that people have drawn up," he said. "A psychological phenomena. When I came out of Canada, I was 'The Flying Dutchman.' I was the scourge of Canada. They hated me. They wanted to deport me. I came down here and I could do no wrong.
"You can guy it or not," he said. "I'm telling you the truth. Rip (The Crippler) isn't a nasty guy."
They may not have been nasty. And the way they picked each other up and slammed each other down and threw each other over the ring ropes and picked each other up by the beard and jumped on each other from the top turnbuckle rope, sometimes missing, and bounced each others' heads off the turnbuckles was impressive. But they had their shortcomings.
"The Assassin," who wears a black body suit and a mask, was disqualified in his first match for choking his opponent. His second bout ended after he fled from the ring to the dressing room.
Chief Tapu, a Samoan who spent much time pulling himself around the ring by his shoulder-length hair and begging his tag-team opponents on his knees not to strike, also spent a lot of time in the ring at the same time with his tag-team partner, the Great Tio. This was not right. One of their opponents remedied the injustice by bashing their heads together.
The fans, especially Jessie McCall, did not remain unmoved.
Most heckled by chanting, applauding or stamping in unison. Mike O'Neill, a 16-year-old Meridian student, tossed a sign reading, "The Assassin Will See Stars, Take the Mask Off," into the ring after The Assassin's first bout. Others threw hot dog wrappers after his departing body.
But McCall was more reserved. The 76-year-old from Richmond, B.C., wore a blue dress and a red rose to the bouts. She took a ringside seat and sat quietly most of the time, her hands folded over her brown purse, which contained some Milk Duds, which an anonymous admirer had bought for her that evening.
Now and again she got up and, with heavy gait, approached the ring and its whirling dervishes to administer advice, stopping on the way back to her seat to chat with fans.
She was not pleased with referee Luke Brown, who missed some Samoan tricks while warning their opponents to stay out of the ring.
"He needs smartening up a little bit," she said. "He goes to the wrong corner when he shouldn't. Mind you, we've got worse referees in Vancouver."
McCall goes to live matches every other week, and has been a fan for 30 years, she said. She watched the Stampede wrestlers from Calgary in Vancouver Monday night. A few weeks before, she had seen "Playboy" Buddy Rose carried from ringside on a stretcher. "I couldn't believe it," she said.
Rose spent a week in the hospital.
Tuesday night, when The Assassin threw Al Madril out of the ring several times and wouldn't let him back in, Jessie McCall rose heavily from her seat and walked to the wrestler wandering outside the ring to tell him something.
"I said, 'Wait 'til he gets to the edge of the ring and then pull him out by the feet,'" she said.
Madrill waited by the edge of the ring. When The Assassin got near, he pulled him out by the feet. McCall flashed him an OK sign.
Not all wrestlers obey, she said.
And not all fans were as feverish as Jessie McCall.
Other fans in the crowd included Mrs. Savage, who sat on the green-and-white plastic pillow she generally brings to matches and ate chocolate chip cookies, and Savage's mother, Kate, a Bellingham resident who goes to matches, she said, whenever she has to.
Oh, yes, the Jack-Oliver bout.
Jack entered the ring flexing his pectorals and left victorious only a few minutes later. He told Oliver that after tonight's match in Seattle, Oliver will probably not be able to wrestle any more.
JACOB (JACK) KISER, 81
(Portland Oregonian, May 22, 1991)
A memorial service for Jacob "Jack" Kiser, retired wrestler and a founder of the St. Johns Athletic Club, will be at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Church of the Open Bible. He died of causes related to age Friday (May 17) in a Portland hospital. He was 81.
Mr. Kiser was born in Blodgett on March 8, 1910, and had lived in Vancouver, Wash., for about 25 years. He was a professional wrestler from 1936 until 1965. After retiring from wrestling, Mr. Kiser worked for Gunderson, Inc., and American Protective Services.
Surviving Mr. Kiser are his wife, Margaret; daughters, Jean R. Heckman of Milwaukie and gloria M. Swing of Albany; sons, Douglas L. and James L., both of Vancouver; brothers, Walter of Bend and Fred of Cloverdale; sister, Helen Baumgartner; and seven grandchildren.
Disposition will be by cremation.
The family suggests that remembrances be contributions to the Turning Point Christian Center, 501 Main St., Vancouver, Wash. 98660.
LADIES INTL. WRESTLING ASSOC.
(LIWA Newsletter, December 1993)
By Matt Langley
How many of you know . . .
--Mae Weston was the only American to hold the Japanese ladies title and was once shot after a match in Birmingham while working as Ma Bass?
--Mae Young was the inaugural Florida ladies champion in 1954 while working for Cowboy Luttrall?
--Ella Wladek held the very same belt 20 years later? When Ella wrestled at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg in 1972 the caliber of wrestling was good enough to charge $20 for front-row seats. Today, the seats are $15 and most remain empty.
--Glady "Killem" Gillem not only wrestled ladies (men on many occasions, too!) but she tamed lions and rassled 'gators? And Gladys and Mae Weston once got into a scuffle on a moving train.
WRESTLER SYLVESTER RITTER, 45
(Associated Press, June 4, 1998)
JACKSON, Miss. -- Pro wrestler "Junkyard Dog," famous for his growls, head butts and power slams in a quarter-century career, has died in a car crash. He was 45.
In his heyday in the late 1970s to the mid-'80s, Sylvester Ritter filled the New Orleans Superdome, teamed with Cyndi Lauper on an album and had a huge television following with his outfit of red tights, white boots and a dog collar.
In the last few months, he repossessed cars part time while competing in small matches and benefits in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Ritter had returned to Mississippi on Monday after attending his daughter's high school graduation in Wadesboro, N.C. He crashed on a stretch of interstate near Forest in central Mississippi late Tuesday as he transported a repossessed car.
"He retired in 1988 and 10 years later he was still in the ring. He had a hard time giving it up," said International Wrestling Federation promoter Guy Walters.
"He enjoyed it all, the big crowds, (the) small. It didn't make any difference as long as he was around to sign autographs and take Polaroids with the kids," he said. "Every kid he met, he'd say, 'Are you still in school? Stay there, baby, do it.'"
Ritter, a native of Charlotte, N.C., and the divorced father of two daughters, had asked for the weekend off to attend the graduation.
"He said, 'If that's the last thing in the world I do, I'm not going to miss it,'" Walters said.
The 6-4, 325-pound "Junkyard Dog" wore size 15 shoes and "took bumps" many wrestlers today can't handle, Walters said.
Playboy Mike Rhodes, Ritter's tag-team partner and the IWF heavyweight champion, said the Dog was always "full of life."
"We figured Junkyard Dog would always be there. It's rocked everybody's world," he said.
Ritter's contemporaries in the ring included Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage and Nikolai Volkoff.
He had a trademark finishing move called "The Thump," a giant power slam. Ritter claimed he earned his nickname while working in an auto junkyard.
"The way that I worked as hard as I did, and the way that I stood my ground for what I believed in, well, my boss said to me, just like the song, 'You are meaner than a junkyard dog,'" he once said.
"So to this day, I kept by boss' advice and
stayed tough and, well, I just thank the man up above for the rest."
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 519
(ED. NOTE -- An earnest young Torontan, Elio Zarlenga, began publishing a monthly results newsletter in the late '70s. He also tried to keep up with the latest news, occasionally adding an editorial comment, like: "Headed in to the WWF soon are Randy Tyler, Hans Schroeder, Terry "Hulk" Boulder and Mike Jones. All four stink.")
1979 PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING RESULTS
(The Wrestling Grapevine, July, 1979)
Orlando -- Don Serrano drew Mike Hammer, Bugsy McGraw beat Reggie Parks, Sweet Brown Sugar-Jack Brisco-Jerry Brisco beat Killer Kahn-Sonny King-Joe LeDuc, Don Muraco beat Mike Graham, King Curtis Iaukea beat Jim Garvin, Harley Race beat Steve Keirn dq (NWA title defense)
Dallas -- Mark Beatty beat Carlos Rodriguez, Pepper Gomez drew Tom Jones, Kerry Von Erich beat Tim Brooks, Fritz Von Erich-Bruiser Brody drew The Spoiler (Don Jardine)-Mark Lewin nc, El Halcon beat Frank Dusek
New York City (Madison Square Garden) -- Johnny Rivera drew Mr. X, Tito Santana beat Baron Scicluna, Nikolai Volkoff beat S.D. Jones, Greg Valentine beat Jay Strongbow cor, Hussain Arab (Iron Sheik) beat Dom DeNucci, Pat Patterson beat Bob Backlund (cuts) (WWF title defense), Johnny Valiant-Jimmy Valiant-Jerry Valiant beat Steve Travis-Ted DiBiase-Haystacks Calhoun, Ivan Putski beat Bulldog Brower
Memphis -- Dallas Montgomery-Steve Regal beat Hans Schroeder-The Gestapo, Koko Ware beat Pete Austin dq, Ron Bass beat Randy Tyler, Buddy Wayne-Ken Wayne beat Eddie Gilbert-Tommy Gilbert, Danny Davis-Wayne Farris-Larry Latham beat Jerry Lawler-Steve Regal-Jackie Fargo
Tampa -- Reggie Parks beat Mike Hammer, Bugsy McGraw beat Jim Shields, Jim Garvin beat Thor the Viking, Mike Graham-Sweet Brown Sugar beat Sonny King-Killer Khan, Jack Brisco beat King Curtis dq, Dusty Rhodes-Steve Keirn beat Joe LeDuc-Don Muraco
San Antonio -- Don Slatton drew Frank Dusek, Tim Brooks beat Tom Jones, El Gran Markus beat Jose Lothario, Dory Funk Jr. beat Pepper Gomez, Tully Blanchard beat Dale Valentine, Mil Mascaras beat Gino Hernandez
Norfolk -- Coco Samoa-Gary Young beat Frank Monte-Tony Russo, Don Kernodle beat Nick DeCarlo, Pedro Morales beat Rudy Kay dq, Leo Burke beat Kim Duk, Paul Orndorff-Jim Brunzell beat Len Denton-Sgt. Goulet, Jimmy Snuka beat Baron Von Raschke, Ric Flair beat Paul Jones, Harley Race drew Ricky Steamboat dcor (NWA title defense)
Kansas City -- Gama Singh beat Ron McFarlane, Frank Hill beat Larry Lane, Kay Noble-Little Tokyo beat Jean Antone-Coconut Willie, The Turk-Jerry Brown beat Bill Irwin-Pat O'Connor, Bruiser Bob Sweetan beat Dory Funk Jr. dq, Bob Brown beat Super Destroyer Mark II (Bob Slaughter) dq
Amarillo -- Larry Lane drew Ted Heath, Manny Fernandez beat Alex Perez dq, El Mongol beat Tommy Sharpe, J.J. Dillon-Mr. Sato beat Dennis Stamp-Ricky Romero, Dick Murdoch beat Kiyo Moto, Blackjack Mulligan beat Ciclon Negro
Shreveport -- Luke Graham beat Mark Beatty, Jerry Oates beat Angelo Mosca dq, Stan Lane drew Jim Starr, Mike Sharpe beat Bruiser Sweetan, Bill Watts-Buck Robley beat The Assassin-The Angel
Atlanta -- Jerry Roberts drew Tenryu, Candy Rich-Jerry Roberts beat Fabulous Moolah-Bill Howard, Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods) beat Carl Fergie, Jerry Brisco beat Missouri Mauler (Larry Hamilton), Bobo Brazil beat Ivan Koloff, Stan Hansen-Tony Atlas beat The Superstar (Bill Eadie)-Blackjack Lanza, Tommy Rich beat Ole Anderson (Rock Rogowski), Dusty Rhodes-Bobo Johnson beat Killer Karl Kox-Bobby Heenan, Wahoo McDaniel beat Ernie Ladd
Knoxville -- Eddie Mansfield-David Schultz beat Dean Ho-Ted Allen, Dick Slater beat The Stomper (Archie Gouldie), Toru Tanaka-Mr. Fuji drew Ron Fuller-Jimmy Golden nc, Jerry Blackwell beat Ginger the Bear, Tony Charles beat Kevin Sullivan
Baltimore -- Steve King drew Jose Estrada, Dom DeNucci beat Moose Monroe, Tito Santana beat Baron Scicluna, S.D. Jones beat Joe Mascoro, Hussain Arab beat Johnny Rivera, Jerry Valiant beat Steve Travis, Jimmy Valiant beat Ivan Putski, Bob Backlund beat Greg Valentine (WWF title defense)
Greensboro -- Gary Young beat Tony Russo, Les Thornton drew Mr. X, Tony Garea beat Charlie Fulton, Johnny Weaver-Jay Youngblood beat Gene Anderson-Swede Hanson, Jim Brunzell-Rufus R. Jones beat John Studd-Ken Patera, Dusty Rhodes drew Ernie Ladd dcor, Ric Flair beat Buddy Rogers, Ricky Steamboat beat Harley Race dq (NWA title defense)
Portland (Ore.) -- Stan Stasiak beat King Parsons, Rip Rogers drew Tony Borne, Ron Starr beat Matt Borne, Sal Martino drew Johnny Mantell, Jonathan Boyd drew Adrian Adonis, Buddy Rose beat Roddy Piper (coal miner's glove match)
Baton Rouge -- Mike Sharpe won a battle royal, Ken Lucas-Charlie Cook drew The Angel-The Assassin, Mike Sharpe beat Tank Patton, Angelo Mosca beat Billy Starr, John Tolos beat Mike Bowyer, Luke Graham beat Stan Lane
St. Louis -- Ron McFarlane-Steve Hall beat Frank Hill-Bill Irwin, Bob Brown beat Gama Singh, Kevin Von Erich-Pat O'Connor-Rufus R. Jones beat Lord Alfred Hayes-The Turk-Jerry Brown, David Von Erich beat Bob Sweetan, Bruiser Brody beat Ted DiBiase, Dick Murdoch beat Dick the Bruiser
Los Angeles -- Colosso Colosetti beat Don Diamond, Allen (Bad News) Coage drew George Wells, Bull Ramos beat Haystacks Calhoun, Twin Devils drew Mando Guerrero-Hector Guerrero, Victor Rivera beat Don Johnson
Colorado Springs -- Alex Perez drew Randy Morse, Vicki Wiliams-Winona Little Heart beat Vivian St. John-Judy Martin, Brute Bernard beat Scandor Akbar (Jim Wehba) cor, Dick Murdoch drew J.J. Dillon dcor
Minneapolis -- Paul Ellering beat Jesse Ventura, Super Destroyer Mark II beat Doug Gilbert, Mad Dog Vachon drew Ray Stevens nc, Bobby Duncum-Stan Hansen beat Billy Robinson-Doug Gilbert, Greg Gagne beat Nick Bockwinkel (nontitle)
Augusta (Ga.) -- Jerry Stubbs beat Ben Alexander, Tenryu drew Carl Fergie, Ray Candy-Stan Hansen beat Blackjack Lanza-Killer Karl Kox dq, Tommy Rich drew El Halcon nc, Wahoo McDaniel beat Masked Superstar cor
Nashville -- Prince Tonga beat Mark Roberts, David Schultz beat Joe Barber, Tom Renesto Sr. beat Gypsy Joe, Joey Rossi beat The Masked Executioner, Tojo Yamamoto-Prince Tonga beat Terry Gordy-Michael Hayes, Dennis Condrey beat Bobby Eaton
Houston -- Tim Brooks beat Bob Marcus, Pepper Gomez beat Don Fargo, Frank Dusek drew Tiger Conway Jr., Mark Lewin beat Tom Jones, Bruiser Brody beat The Spoiler, El Gran Markus-Gino Hernandez beat Jose Lothario-El Halcon
Philadelphia -- Tito Santana beat Johnny Rodz, Baron Scicluna beat Jose Estrada, S.D. Jones beat Joe Mascoro, Greg Valentine beat Jay Strongbow cor, Bulldog Brower beat Johnny Rivera, Johnny Valiant-Jerry Valiant beat Bob Backlund-Ivan Putski dq, Hussain Arab beat Dom DeNucci, Jimmy Valiant beat Steve Travis, Pat Patterson beat Ted DiBiase
Chicago -- Moose Cholak beat Lord Alfred Hayes cor, Bobo Brazil beat Bobby Duncum, Jesse Ventura beat Paul Ellering, Spike Huber drew Paul Christy, Ray Stevens beat Greg Gagne dq, Nick Bockwinkel beat Billy Robinson (AWA title defense), Bruiser Brody-Super Destroyer Mark II beat Crusher Lisowski-Dick the Bruiser
Miami -- Reggie Parks beat Mike Hammer, Jim Shields beat Buzz Sawyer, Jerry Brisco-Steve Keirn beat Bugsy McGraw-Thor the Viking, Jim Garvin beat Joe LeDuc, Jack Brisco beat Don Muraco, King Curtis-Killer Khan beat Dusty Rhodes-Sweet Brown Sugar
Austin (Tex.) -- Dale Valentine-Jose Lothario beat El Gran Markus-Gino Hernandez, Tim Brooks beat Tully Blanchard, Pepper Gomez beat Don Fargo, Leo Seitz beat Carlos Rodriguez
New York City (Madison Square Garden) -- Steve Travis beat Baron Scicluna, Nikolai Volkoff beat Jose Estrada, Roddy Piper beat Johnny Rodz, Fabulous Moolah-Kitty Adams beat Joyce Grable-Vivian St. John, Dom DeNucci-Tito Santana-Ivan Putski-Andre the Giant beat Lou Albano-Johnny Valiant-Jerry Valiant-Jimmy Valiant, Hussain Arab beat Ted DiBiase, Greg Valentine beat Jay Strongbow, Pat Patterson beat Bob Backlund (cuts) (WWF title defense)
(ED. NOTE -- It's always interesting to look at results from a perspective of career longevity. In 1979, the veterans on the above cards who had 20 or more years in the business included Reg Parks, Carlos Rodriguez, Crusher Lisowski, Pepper Gomez, Lou Albano, Fritz Von Erich, Don Jardine, Mark Lewin, Baron Scicluna, Jay Strongbow, Pat O'Connor, Al Hayes, Haystacks Calhoun, Dick the Bruiser, Bulldog Brower, Pedro Morales, Brute Bernard, Mad Dog Vachon, Fabulous Moolah, Larry Hamilton, Ray Stevens, Bobo Brazil, Billy Robinson, Karl Kox (Herb Gerwig), Johnny Weaver, Tom Renesto, Swede Hanson, Tojo Yamamoto (P.Y. Chung), Buddy Rogers, Stan Stasiak, Don Fargo (Don Kalt), Harley Race, Tony Borne and Pat Patterson. Looking to the future, and fellows who would still be active in and around the game 20 years later, Patterson fits that bill, too, plus Jerry Brisco, Tito Santana, Greg Valentine, Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund, Jimmy Valiant, Danny Davis, Wayne Farris, Jerry Lawler, Dory Funk Jr., Jimmy Snuka, Ric Flair, J.J. Dillon, Bobby Eaton, Stan Hansen, Tony Atlas, Bobby Heenan, Matt Borne, Roddy Piper, Buddy Rose, Bob Slaughter, Michael Hayes and Doug Gilbert.)
(ED. NOTE -- The following editorial, by Dave Meltzer, appeared in his first-ever Wrestling Observer annual, covering the year of 1983. It is the "Badstreet U.S.A." issue, with Michael Hayes on the cover and the notice that this would be a "collector's edition.")
PULLING NO PUNCHES by David Meltzer
(1983 Wrestling Observer Annual)
The wrestling war has begun.
What started out a few years back with many people speculating on what the long-term effect of cable TV, has wound up with its most inevitable result--The consolidation of the major pro wrestling promotions into a few select and very powerful hands.
Now promotional struggles are nothing new. They've been around as long as there has been pro wrestling. But they have usually been confined to one area. Now, the entire nation, and perhaps the world has become the battleground as Titan Sports and Vince McMahon Jr. attempt to control the entire business.
Actions in the last month have made it obvious McMahon Jr. will stop at almost nothing in quest of his ultimate goal.
In the most shocking news in wrestling perhaps in the last decade, the Iron Sheik won the W.W.F. title from Bob Backlund on 12/26 at Madison Square Garden. From all clues, it appears this title change was something of a last minute and very secretive thing. The dumping from Backlund off McMahon's wrestling throne in a sense, was McMahon's acknowlegement that his headliner in various promotional struggles was not strong enough to insure running off opposition.
About one week earlier, all of a sudden Hulk Hogan, who in the past year has become the No. 1 box office attraction in the business, backed out of an agreement to remain in the AWA. It was obvious where he was going.
Of course the most recent breakthrough is the WWF heading into St. Louis. WWF tapings from the Chase Hotel will go into Detroit, and the next city on their list--Indianapolis. The WWF in St. Louis? That's something that a few months ago would be unheard of. St. Louis has been the stronghold, really the flagship city of the entire NWA.
What about the NWA, "the largest and most powerful governing body in pro wrestling." We've seen chunks of stone chipped from its side over the past five years, but the latest chip seemed to puncture the heart. Most NWA circuits aren't in good financial shape. Florida has been crumbling the last few months; the situation in Georgia is obvious to even a casual viewer of the weekly TV show; Alabama is on its last legs. With the exception of Dallas and Mid-Atlantic, what NWA cities can still pack a big arena?
The AWA has never had a more successful season at the gate than this past year. In the last month, those sellouts may become a thing of the past. The loss of Hogan is the biggest blow that could happen to the AWA. The loss of David Schults and "Mean Gene" Okerlund are also significant. Okerlund's loss cannot be taken lightly. As the corniest announcer going, the man had built up an incredible cult following throughout the AWA. Quite frankly the AWA TV show is one of the worst in the country, but many people still watched because they didn't want to miss Gene on the interviews. The AWA may be strong enough to weather this tornado of events, but what about when McMahon comes back against them with his array of superstars--Hogan, Slaughter, Adonis, Santana, Schults and other well known favorites to local fans, and with Gene doing his promotion?
Bill Watts and Jerry Jarrett may be the two smartest promoters in the business. The two have formed sort of an alliance pact that they will help one another when McMahon attacks. But what happens when McMahon makes a lucrative offer to Butch Reed or the Junkyard Dog? What ammunition will Watts and Jarrett have at their disposal?
McMahon's shocking coup in signing Roddy Piper came at the worst possible time for Jim Crockett. If Ricky Steamboat really goes through with his retirement, it leaves Mid Atlantic vulnerable becomes of a lack of charismatic baby faces. The only one left, Jimmy Valiant, can't wrestle and those type of things usually catch up to a promoter because in the long run the spectators get tired of paying for shows devoid of action. Of course Ric Flair is still around, but it may get frustrating to a man of his ego to be the man an insignificant satellite revolves around instead of the wrestling world itself. With the area lacking in folk heroes--wham--here comes McMahon, fully armed with Hogan, with Slaughter, with Piper.
I fully expect Hogan to wind up with the WWF belt. The average fan, seeing Hogan as champion, will perceive him as the "real" champion. Even a superior wrestler like Flair, because he has neither the size or physique, nor as great an aura of invincibility surrounding him, would be able to draw as champion against Hogan. Once McMahon has the stars, and what fans perceive to be the real champion, plus exposure, which he's made great strides in obtaining during the past year, then few can stand up against him.
There is the possibility of course that in his quest to take-it-all, McMahon will spread himself too thin and fail in several areas. Many of his new cities (Dayton, Cincinnati, San Diego) have to be classified as at the least, minor failures. Going into an area like Dallas, where the fans are completely satisfied with the home promotion and have been cleverly brainwashed to the point that they would never turn their back on the Von Erichs, stll looks to me to be impossible. What would fans in Memphis think after seeing a WWF show live? The new cities the WWF has expanded to this past year have been cities that were virtually there's for the taking. They weren't competing with a popular home promotion.
I know that most fans who have a real love for wrestling have dreaded this inevitable attack for a long time.
I don't really know what the final result will
be. The actions of the past month, however, leave me with a very pessimistic
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 520
EBULLIENT RIC FLAIR KING OF THE RING
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 10, 1999)
By Covey Solaimani
A 50-year-old man walks confidently to the ring wearing a glamorous robe, which helps define his unrivaled arrogance.
Perpetually tanned, with bleached-blond hair, the legend's presence induces repeated screams of "Whoooo!!" and signs of respect from a packed house of fans.
Invariably, a young child asks, "What's causin' all this?"
The answer is simple, as it has been for 26½ years.
Imagine the Chicago Bulls telling Michael Jordan to go home, we don't need you anymore.
Well, WCW President Eric Bischoff did just that last year when he attempted to end Ric Flair's career with a lawsuit.
Charging breach of contract, the company sued the "Nature Boy" in April 1998 for missing a scheduled TV appearance.
"It was like the Yankees suing Mickey Mantle," said Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which takes a behind-the-scenes-look into the industry.
Flair, who later countersued, was deeply hurt. He said he had permission to miss the show to watch his son, Reid, who was then 10 years old, compete in a national AAU wrestling tournament.
"It was time to take a stand," Flair said, "I wasn't going to let my son down."
Instead of letting the incident blow over, Flair said, "Bischoff decided to take it to the next level." Fortunately for Flair, his supporters rebelled.
Chants of "We want Flair" filled arenas across the country and protests were sent to WCW's offices. Finally, in September, the two sides settled out of court.
Flair, with a three-year, $2 million contract in hand, was going to continue doing what he does best . . . entertain the fans.
The kiss-stealing, jet-flying, limousine-riding, wheeling-dealing, son-of-a-gun returned to the sport Sept. 14, 1998, in Greenville, S.C.
The sold-out crowd moved Flair to tears with a standing ovation that was deafening.
"It was the most emotional moment and the highlight of my career," Flair said, adding that the fans' response showed that the time he spent wrestling was "worth every minute."
"It was amazing," Meltzer said. "It was kind of like the Flair fans saying, 'We know you are really the best, even though you aren't portrayed as the best.' "
Since that night, Flair has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity.
His segments on TV have generally been the highest-rated for WCW, which has been losing the ratings battle to the WWF.
As a heel or a babyface, it hasn't mattered . . . people have tuned in to watch "Slick Ric" do his thing.
"It's been tremendous," Flair said, adding that he enjoyed his recent run with Hulk Hogan in which they set company gate records in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.
Flair will be back on stage this Sunday in Baltimore for the Great American Bash and Monday for "Nitro" in Washington.
"Flair is probably the most respected performer in the business today," said Bob Ryder, owner of 1wrestling.com and a contributor to the WCW Hotline. "People literally love the man."
And they have for years.
Richard Morgan Fliehr was born on Feb. 25, 1949, in Minnesota, with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He excelled athletically and won a Wisconsin state wrestling championship as a junior at a military prep school in 1967. After graduating from high school, he went to the University of Minnesota and played on the offensive line for the school's football team.
But academic problems cost him his eligibility in 1970. Flair left school and needed to find a job. Wrestling was it.
He attended Verne Gagne's camp in 1971 and, after quitting twice, he completed the rigorous training.
His first match was Dec. 10, 1972, in Rice Lake, Wis., for Gagne's American Wrestling Association. Flair battled George "Scrapiron" Gadaski to a 10-minute draw.
"That first match was phenomenal," Flair said in the "Ric Flair Record Book."
"I was really confident in what I had learned, it was just the insecurity of being in front of people. And back then, you really had to prove yourself."
After a couple of years in the AWA, Flair went to work for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. After a strong start, his career came to a screeching halt.
On Oct. 4, 1975, a plane crash almost claimed his life. Flair broke his back, and doctors told him he never would wrestle again.
Fortunately, they were wrong. Within six months, he was back in action.
"I was just apprehensive at first," Flair said. "I was very nervous. I called the doctor 10 times that day making sure it was OK."
His confidence regained, Flair began making the "Nature Boy" famous. Wrestling more than 300 nights a year, Flair toured the Carolinas and Virginia.
Working mostly as a heel, he became an instant sensation. His ability to talk and his charisma made him the person fans loved to hate.
Flair's matches with Ricky Steamboat, Wahoo McDaniel, Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine and others are considered among the best the region has ever seen. Flair could work for 60 minutes, and he didn't mind spilling blood to get his point across.
The up-and-coming star's impact didn't go unnoticed. Promoter George Scott gave Flair a three-year contract, which was unheard of at the time.
"I was fortunate to be able to stay in one place and never have to leave," Flair said. "I was at the right place at the right time."
The Richmond Coliseum was home to many of Flair's most deplorable matches. "I was here the first time it ever sold out," Flair said, recalling his feud in 1978 with Blackjack Mulligan.
While the 1970s provided Flair with a phenomenal run, his best moments were yet to come.
"I think most people that saw him during that time period knew they were seeing a special athlete," Ryder said, "and that he would be a superstar. But it wasn't until the mid-'80s that it really became obvious that Flair was THE man."
Known as the dirtiest player in the game, it was time for Flair to take the next step.
Promoters for the National Wrestling Alliance, which consisted of several regional organizations, needed a new world champion . . . a person who could tour the country and draw plenty of cash and a ton of heat. They needed someone with flair.
There was only one logical choice.
"When he was on," Meltzer said, "nobody could do a better angle or interview than Flair."
On Sept. 17, 1981, in Kansas City, Mo., the "Nature Boy" took the gold away from the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
"The rap when I got to be champion is that I wasn't big enough," said Flair, who is 6-feet-1-inch and weighs 230 pounds.
He silenced his critics. Flair would eventually become a 14-time world champion. Nobody else has won the title even 10 times. "Ric Flair was cool before it was hip to be cool," Ryder said, "and nobody has ever done it better."
For most of the 1980s, Flair dominated the world-title scene. Matches with Harley Race, Sting, Kerry Von Erich, Barry Windham, Terry Funk and especially Steamboat defined the sport during that time.
A group that forever will be known in wrestling lore -- the Four Horsemen -- also was developed during this period.
Consisting of Arn and Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Flair, with J.J. Dillon as manager, the unit made a pile of money during a time when there weren't guaranteed contracts.
Thanks to television, the wrestlers couldn't go anywhere in public without fans holding four fingers high in the air. It was the symbol of excellence.
"TBS brought wrestling to millions of fans who had previously been limited to watching regional wrestling on their local channels," Ryder said. "They were cable superstars and got literally worldwide exposure.
"They took advantage of that exposure to leave an impact on fans that they stood for excellence and that they were the elite group in professional wrestling."
From 1985 to the present, there have been many incarnations of the Horsemen. None have compared with the first group of renegades.
"It was the greatest array of talent ever assembled in one limousine, one hotel room, one dressing room and one bar, of all time," Flair said.
In 1991, wrestling started to lose some of its appeal for Flair.
He still loved the soap-opera drama and theatrics, but he didn't care for whom he was working in WCW, which had bought Jim Crockett Promotions and reduced the NWA to a minor-league act.
Jim Herd was the company's top executive at the time. "There was just no place for him to run a wrestling company," Flair said. "He didn't have the experience."
Herd wanted Flair to take a reduced role and less money when his contract was up in the summer of that year. He refused, took his signature chops, figure four and trademark strut to the WWF, WCW's rival promotion.
"It was real hard," Flair said. "You would have thought after all those years I've been with the company . . . ."
Working for Vince McMahon, Flair regained the passion for his craft. He had the dream match with Hogan and a lengthy feud with Randy Savage, which put him in the main event of Wrestlemania VIII.
"It was a great time for me," Flair said. "It was probably as much fun as I've had except for the late '80s with the Horsemen."
And despite the smaller crowds -- steroid and sex scandals had drastically reduced the sport's popularity -- he continued to perform at a high level.
Flair, who can have a great match with a broomstick, made sure everyone got their money's worth.
"He knows what fans want, and he gives it to them," Ryder said. "It doesn't matter if he is working in front of 1,500 or 150,000 fans, he goes out to put on a show every time he enters the ring."
Dillon, who has worked behind the curtain for both the WWF and WCW, said that's why Flair's among the best of all time.
"I have always felt that way because of his work ethic," he said. "One of the things that always impressed me about him is no matter what the size of the crowd, he gave the same effort every night."
After an amicable split with McMahon, Flair learned you can go home again.
He returned to WCW in early 1993 and has worked for the company since.
During the past six years, the decision-makers have alternately built Flair up and knocked him down.
Among the high moments for Flair were winning the world title at Starrcade '93 in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., and claiming his 14th championship against Hogan this past March 14.
The forgettable times included the lawsuit with WCW and matches with Hogan in 1994, where Flair's past achievements were taken for granted and abused.
Through it all, Flair has persevered. He rarely wins any of his matches anymore and often finds himself doing the job to less talented performers.
But the classy veteran understands his role. "Getting my hand raised was never an issue with me," Flair said, adding that his responsibility is to make sure the people leave events pleased.
That attitude has helped earn him the highest respect of his peers.
"He's the greatest of all time," Arn Anderson said.
Ricky Morton, a 20-year veteran who had many four-star matches with Flair in the 1980s, said, "Ric Flair is the true world heavyweight champion. He is a credit to this business. When Ric Flair walks into the dressing room all the boys making $1 million a year should drop down and kiss his [deleted] . . .
"He's one of the last of the true professionals."
Time to retire?
Wrestling has made Flair rich. But he had to make plenty of sacrifices. Married with four kids, he can't make up for the time he spent on the road.
Flair, who is a partner in nine Gold's gyms in North Carolina and who has seen his name come up in the political game, said his body feels better now than it did 10 years ago.
"I hope that I've earned a place here for the rest of my career," he said. "I had a time line to retire, but I already went by it twice."
Recent actions inside the squared circle have proved he can still perform at a high level. His match last week on "Thunder" against Chris Benoit was a classic.
"He can be successful as long as he wants to be," Ryder said.
When he does take off the robe for the final time, WCW should properly pay homage to arguably the greatest wrestler to ever walk that aisle.
"I hope it would be done in a great way," Meltzer said. "For his business, he's Michael Jordan, he's Wayne Gretzky. . . .
"He's the fame."
THE 'NATURE BOY' RUMINATES
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 10, 1999)
By Coveh Solaimani
Ric Flair's opinions on various personalities within the wrestling industry:
Eric Bischoff: "I've had my highs and lows with Eric. He's progressive and a visionary. The biggest problem I have with Eric is we used to be friends and when he didn't have time to be my friend anymore, it hurt."
Vince McMahon: "A great guy; he deserves a lot of credit."
Dusty Rhodes: "He had a vision. He's creative and innovative; very charismatic."
Four Horsemen: "What you saw on TV is what you got in real life. Everybody could wrestle, talk and party all night long."
Wahoo McDaniel: "A tremendous guy; a man's man."
Ricky Steamboat: "The greatest good guy of all time."
Hulk Hogan: "He's responsible for changing our industry. . . . He's always been able to protect his character."
Arn Anderson: "My best friend, and the most underrated talent in the history of sports."
Sting: "A class act. He's a tremendous guy."
Lex Luger: "I made a lot of money with him."
Harley Race: "The toughest guy I have ever known and one of the greatest workers."
Steve Austin: "He's tremendous. Steve was great when he was here [WCW]."
Shawn Michaels: "He is one of the greatest workers I have ever seen."
The Rock: "Rocky is the closest thing to me right now. . . . He'll probably make so much money he won't have to wrestle in five years.
THE READERS ALWAYS WRITE . . .
Date: Thursday, June 10, 1999 8:57 AM
Subject: Baseball = Pro Wrestling?
Dear Mr. Kenyon,
Saw something in yesterday's Cincinnati Post that blew my mind -- a wire story article about baseball star Jose Canseco, who shared his belief that baseball is too boring, and should revamp itself to be more like... today's pro wrestling! God save us from that!
I'm a purist. I like baseball because it is old-fashioned and hasn't been gimmicked up. (One example Canseco gave to liven things up: When Mark McGwire hits a home run, turn out all the stadium lights and have his uniform light up, ala the movie "The Electric Horseman" where Robert Redford played a rodeo star with a similar suit.) Methinks Jose's overuse of steriods has gone to his head!
Call me an old fart, but I think wrestling should take a cue from the past and look back to the days I'm studying (Frank Gotch/George Hackenschmidt.)
Keep up the great work! I truly appreciate your efforts!
P.S. Thanks for the update on Sable's suit. I'd heard jokes about it on late night TV and had not heard any news stories about it.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 521
LUCHA LIBRE'S LOS ANGELES LOCALS
(http://www.fortunecity.com/olympia/bruno/81/lalucha.htm -- extracted from Wrestling World, October, 1997)
By Kurt Brown
On almost any given day at Gil's Garage on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, you will find four to eight middle-aged men whose faces and foreheads are adorned with small knots and scars; they sip beers, eat snacks and trade war stories in the working area. Occasionally, a short but powerful ederly man named Chivo Garcia lugs his rock-hard thick nose, cauliflower ears, and huge arms into the pow wow. He is here to visit his son, who is not one of Gil's mechanics. In fact, only two of the gentlemen present are employees at Gil's Garage: Ramon "Chacal" Rivera, and Gil himself. Many folks who stroll by the garage will see the cluster of men telling tales, laughing, and teasing one another and see just that; but the local residents who know Gil Arellano realize that there is a wrestling ring in the supply room of the garage; they recognize that once the shop is closed, Gil dedicates two hours most weeknights teaching young men the art of lucha libre; they recognize the beer swilling and chip chewing scalawags as present and former students of Gil; and they recognize Gil Arellano himself, who brought the purist tradition known as lucha libre (literal translation is free fight) from his native Mexico in 1970 and replanted it in Southern California. He has since nurtured and spread the fruits of his labour throughout this region to many individuals who would otherwise have had either no knowledge or access to the sport.
"Wrestling is a natural heritage, the primate play of men that will probably last until the sound of the final trumpet and continue on into the next world." - Marcus Griffin, Fall Guys
Perhaps one of the greatest, but least acknowledged, features unique to Mexico's version of professional wrestling is abundance of regional schools and promotions. While cities like Mexico, Guadalajara, and Monterrey have established lucha libre schools backed by a promoter's money, most wrestling schools operate out of small gymnasiums in towns that have no major promoter to sponsor a source of lucha libre instruction. These schools are often run by veteran luchadores (wrestlers) who have wrestled actively on one of Mexico's major circuits, but have cited inconsistent employement, excessive traveling, and infrequent contact with family as reason to retire from lucha libre on a full time basis. The retired wrestler is still hungry to taste the sport he loves; without a wrestling gym in town, he establishes his own school and teaches lucha libre to the many youths who have longed to learn the lessons which previously were inaccessible.
Enter Gil Arellano, who started Southern California's first ever regional lucha libre school. He wrestled in Tijuana until moving with his wife and daughters to Los Angeles in 1972 so he could open his auto repair garage. He was 32-years-old and knew many wrestlers around his age who had relocated from various states in Mexico to Southern California. Gil and his luchador friends had plenty of energy and no outlet to release it; thus Gil gutted the supply room in his garage, built a wrestling ring, dressing room, and a makeshift shower to stablish Gil's Gym.
Gil's Gym offered classes to aspiring young luchadores in the Los Angeles area, many of whom were sons, nephews, sometimes younger brothers of wrestlers who, like Gil, had settled in the Los Angeles region. These youths learned the art of lucha libre with no promise of ever landing an actual professional match; the only wrestling promotion existing in Southern California was American based and its promoters were only open to employing Mexican wrestlers if they were heavyweights who were already established stars in Mexico.
"Even hidden in the most squalid Parisian halls, wrestling partakes of the nature of the great solar spectacles, Greek drama and bullfights: in both, a light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve." -- Roland Barthes, The World of Wrestling
So Gil took his gym and his energy one step further and, along with several Latino wrestling enthusiasts in the area, began the first purist lucha libre style promotion in Los Angeles. It was 1973 at a small theater called the Arena Center. Although they rarely drew more than 30 people to these matches, rookie luchadores were thrilled to be able to exhibit their wrestling talent in front of any audience.
In 1978 the local luchadores tasted their first bite of true local success. The owner of Hadco Plaza, a two-story dance hall located on the corner of 25th & Main Street in downtown Los Angeles, leased the building to the newly-formed CLLP (Clup Latino Luchadores Promociones). "It was the beginning of lucha libre here," recalls local wrestler Super Boy.
He first entered Hadco Plaza that year as a 10-year old tagging along behind his father Jesus, who wrestled as El Fugitivo until becoming popular locally as El Moro. Super Boy also watched at ringside as older brothers Capitan Oro (Golden Captain) and Principe Indu (Hindu Prince) wrestled their rookie matches. "Hadco Plaza was pure family! Maybe five or 10 people showed up to these shows at first. After three or four weeks, the huge crowds started coming!" By the 1980s Hadco Plaza became successful enough that sponsorships made it possible to host Mexico's stars such as Dos Caras, Negro Casas, Gallo Tapado, Lola Gonzalez, and Los Villanos. The success of Hadco Plaza shows lasted until 1985, when the building was sold to a religious organization whose ministers refused to rent the space out for violent spectacles like lucha libre. Since that time, over eight different independent organizations have promoted lucha libre sporadically in the southland. The most consistent of these promoters are Antonio Alvarez, who has promoted most Sunday evenings at the All Nation Center in Boyle Heights for the past five years, and Sergio Garcia, who promotes at a club in Compton called Plaza Zacatecas since 1993.
La Familia Moro (The Moro Family): Jesus Torres, better known to local fans as El Moro, has good reason to be proud. He earned his spot in Los Angeles' Lucha Hall of Fame, and topped off that accomplishment by guiding sons Capitan Oro, Principe Indi, and Super Boy into the circuit.
El Moro began his wrestling career in Mexico in the 1960s, where he wrestled using the name Anibal (not to be confused with a wrestler who used the name several years later). Capitan and Principe, who were both nearing adolescence, studied their father's matches closely in preparation for their forthcoming careers. Super Boy, who was three years old, became the youngest member of the family to earn money in the ring. He would climb into the ring in between matches and try to emulate his father's high spots by doing tumbling and cartwheels. "The people saw me," laughs Super boy, "and they would say 'Oh, how cute! That little boy wants to be a wrestler,' and they threw money into the ring!"
Jesus Torres wrestled for awhile under the name El Fugitivo when he moved the family to Los Angeles in 1971. But eventually he tossed his hood away and began wrestling tecnico style as El Moro. Capitan Oro and Principe Indu debuted in the late 1970s, and Super Boy began his career in 1987. Since then, El Moro has retired, but still attends most of his sons' matches. Principe Indu wrestles sporadically since his job and family takes up the bulk of his time.
Super Boy and Capitan Oro can be seen on over half of the lucha libre cards promoted in Southern California. Their consistent hard workd paid off in 1993 when the opportunity to tour Japan for Michinoku Pro Wrestling arose. Such a choice opportunity never arose for the wrestlers who were strictly local boys before, so Super Boy shrugged the offer off as a prank played by one of the boys. "It almost cost me the tour!" recalls Super Boy. "I didn't follow up on passports and working papers until the last minute because I was so certain that somebody was kidding with me! Both wrestlers made their first tours very successfully. Michinoku was so taken with Super Boy that they have since brought him back to Japan for nine more tours, a local-boy record that will not be likely be broken anytime soon.
Chacal and Bulldog Rivera:
These sibling rudos are two of the most graceful rudos you will see in lucha libre. Older brother Ramon "El Chacal" started his career in the 1970s and is now one of the chief trainers at Gil's Gym. Antonio "El Bulldog" has just recently broken through the rookie barrier and is giving some five-star performances in tag and trio matches. "And Bulldog Rivera is one guy I definitely aim to use on my shows!" insists Incredibly Strange Wrestling promoter Johnny Legend. What's that? Legend use a wrestler with neither mask nor disturbing gimmick? "You bet!" barks Johnny. "Bulldog Rivera personifies the look of the classic luchadores of the 1950s like Cavernario Galindo and Los Espantos!"
Chivo Garcia is another former pro who wrestled throughout Mexico over three decades ago and wound up moving to Southern California. Like El Moro, Garcia has two sons in the Los Angeles ranks. Kayam and Enigma de Oro. Both Chivo's sons began their careers as high-flying tecnicos in Hadco Plaza, but decided to follow in their father's footsteps within two years. They are among the local boys who have ventured out into foreign soil. They held the Baja, CA tag titles, the California State tag titles, and Kayam won the Northern Regional Welterweight Championship from Mil Usos in 1988.
A graying wrestler in his late 40s, Murrieta displays the dulled silver and gold in his mouth when he flashes a crazed grin at 500 angry wrestling fans in attendance at the All Nation Center in Boyle Heights. He laughs like the evil pistolero in a Sergio Leone western, spits into the audience, and smacks his young opponent across the head. Women in the crowd chastise Murrieta for bullying the young wrestlers; he answers by raising his wild eyebrows and barking "Dirty old witch, check this out!" He cocks his leg back and lands an exaggerated kick to the young man's face, causing the rookie to cover his eyes and grimace in pain.
Al Murrieta is one of Los Angeles' most respected wrestling veterans. Despite his body being worn from 30 years of bumps and beatings inside the ring, many of the younger wrestlers in the main events request to team or oppose Murrieta in the six-man tags. "Rookies can learn plenty from Al Murrieta," said lucha libre expert Steve Sims in a 1994 interview. "He is a classic wrestler who understands everything there is about being a rudo." Super boy readily agrees. "I've learned so much from teaming with and wrestling Al Murrieta. He was one of my many teachers. One day in the gym he showed me what a mean left hook he has!" laughs Super Boy. "He's nearly 50 years old, but if you're wise, you do not get smart with him!"
A local veteran who has never strayed from his rudo ways! He sparked several disastrous riots at Hadco Plaza in 1981, each of which sent every wrestler on the show bolting from the dressing room to break up the unruly fans. Although Dr. Muerte prefers to sock and stomp his tecnico opposition, he teaches the up-and-coming wrestlers in East Los Angeles a diverse menu of scientific wrestling holds.
During a main event in 1992, Crazy Boy drop-kicked his tecnico foe out of the ring and followed the move with a tope suicida (suicide dive) over the ropes; he nailed his opponent so hard that both wrestlers barreled through three rows of fans. The irate spectators screamed and hurled threats of lawsuits at Crazy Boy, but he just cursed them out and began wailing on his opponent with a busted chair. "They don't call him Crazy Boy for nothing!" chuckled fellow wrestler Greg Regalado.
Acero Dorado Jr.:
The son-in-law of Dr. Muerte, Acero Dorado Jr. is another youngster who started out as a tecnico and did an about face to the chagrin of local fans. His rookie days saw him become seasoned in a series of great matches with Super Boy in 1993.
El Físico Nuclear:
He is a white boy who speaks no Spanish, yet he wrestles strictly lucha libre style. El Fisico Nuclear (The Nuclear Physicist) earned his Bachelors degree in Physics at Cal-State Fullerton and his Masters at Cal-State Long Beach. The brilliant young wrestler, who held Cal-International's Middleweight title for over a year has a bizarre entourage of fans who have gone so far as to deify him!
El Asesino Postal:
One of Johnny Legend's proteges, as you can probably guess once you translate his name into English: The Postal Assassin! He comes to the ring packing heat, but thus far has resisted the urge to literally shoot on his opponents.
Aguila Azteca (Aztec Eagle):
Originally a competitive amateur boxer, Aguila Azteca became fascinated with lucha libre in 1992 after attending several lucha shows at All Nation Center, where he made his pro debut in 1993. Eager to learn the art of the tecnico, Aguila jumped into the advanced lucha classes at Gil's early in the game. Now in his fifht year of pro lucha, Aguila Azteca has moved out of the fans' ranks as "that rookie boy" and into their realm of respect, "Aguila Azteca, that tenacious tecnico!"
Franky "Destruction" Dee:
Handsome rookie of Mexican and Chinese descent, Franky manages to fit both lucha libre and kung fu into his busy schedule. Although Franky looks up to big-time lucha libre stars like La Parka and Emilio Charles Jr., it is a martial artist who holds the top tier in Franky's book: Bruce Lee. Franky was among the troupe of wrestlers who appeared at 1995 Lollapalooza in Washington. "Immediately after the show," says Franky, "I drove two hours to Seattle to visit Bruce Lee's grave." Look for "Destruction" to give the local lucha scene a whole new look with his sweet blend of martial arts and flying lucha techniques.
A rookie tecnico who trained under Dr. Muerte's tutelage. He enters the ring dressed in full mechanic's wardrobe, and disrobes it to reveal tights decorated with flashy wrench, nuts, and bolt emblems. Mecanico wrestles a cautious scientific style in opening matches. He will no doubt hoist himself higher into the semi-main events by this time next year.
If I were to list the entire array of local boys who have played a significant role in Los Angeles lucha libre scene, it would take up at least one entire issue of Wrestling World magazine. Just a partial list of wrestlers who either wrestled their rookie years and/or gained popularity in the Southern California are Piloto Suicida, Mercurio, Super Astro, Rey Misterio Jr., Jesse Garcia, Jalisco I, Gori Chavez, Scarface, Mario Gallegos, Piloto Nuclear, Falcon de Oro, El Michoacano, Sombra de Plata, Cosmos, El Gallo Curiel, Tornado Negro I & II and Marco Polo.
GRAPPLING WITH MAT CONTENT
(Online Journal Review, June 9, 1999)
By Steve Klein
Online sports editors wrestled with a dilemma
last month when Owen Hart, a professional wrestler, tragically lost his life in
Kansas City during a World Wrestling Federation promotion called "Over the
Hart, who was 34, was making an entrance to the ring like a superhero from the ceiling. But when the cable he was connected to either broke or became disconnected, he fell 50 feet and hit his head on a turnbuckle. He died shortly thereafter at a hospital due to cardiac arrest.
With more than 20,000 passionate pro wrestling fans in Kemper Arena for the WWF production, the story was most certainly news. But was it a sports story or an entertainment story?
In the good-vs.-evil universe of the WWF, plot lines are scripted by impresario Vince McMahon and repeated from one sold-out arena to another night after night. So online sports editors had to decide: sports front or entertainment front?
If it's the unknown outcome of an athletic competition that makes an event sports, does a story about a staged enactment qualify for a sports Web site or the sports section of a news site? Because it involves wrestling, that's where an online sports fan might expect to find it.
The real question, however, is this: How much credibility are online sports editors willing to trade off for the all-but-certain accompanying traffic? If Media Metrix is to be believed, professional wrestling means big, big online numbers: Both the WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) sites are consistently in the top 10 when counted among establishment sports sites like ESPN.com, SportsLine.com, NFL.com and NBA.com.
For the better part of a week following Hart's death, online sports editors traded body slams over the problem on the listserv for SportsEditor.com, the organization for online sports journalists that I founded with Mike Emmett of Total Sports.
No single subject has dominated the forum like
this one has in the little more than a year SportsEditor.com has existed --
ironically, over an event that many of the nearly 200 members of the
organization weren't even sure was sports!
Newspapers generally approach professional wrestling as entertainment news, in part because disdaining sports editors are jealous of every column inch. There are notable exceptions, like M.L. Curly's weekly column in the Detroit News.
The day after the accident, the Washington Post ran about two grafs on A7 in a news roundup while the Web site ran it midway down the home page. At no time did the story appear in the online sports section, according to Kevin Maguire, an online sports producer with WashingtonPost.com.
"While it was a tragic circumstance, it certainly was not a sports story," Maguire wrote on the SportsEditor.com forum. Maguire said he and the Web site's home page editor discussed the story and came to the same conclusion: newsworthy, but not a sports story.
Most online sports sites, however, went with the story.
CBS SportsLine made it the lead package with photos and links to additional coverage on their WrestleLine section front. ESPN.com ran reports (as did Sportscenter); so did CNN/SI.com, FOXSports.com and USATODAY.com.
"We had no problem running the story as a headline news item toward the bottom since it's clearly a news story, sport or not," wrote John Marvel, executive editor of ESPN.com, on the SportsEditor.com forum. "In fact, because of pro wrestling's acting and scripts, it's probably that much more of a news story when real life interrupts the fantasy."
Tim Harvey, who has reported on professional wrestling for both the print and online versions of USA TODAY, suggested a compromise for the conflicted.
"Why not simply set up a sports/entertainment page with links from the fronts of both the sports and entertainment sections?" he asked on the listserv. "Or, if you're a sports-only site, why not create something similar to the 'news of the weird' for the lighter side of sports?
"I applaud CBS Sportsline for being the first to respond to the wants and needs of its users. I hope we all won't carry a taboo from the days of print into the information age."
Chuck Bednar of About.com's Guide to Baseball
came to the defense of pro wrestling fans who expected to look to a sports site
for news of the Hart story.
"Wrestling may not be sporting competition, but I think there's little question that the performers are athletes," he wrote. "Perhaps the motives for running it on the sports front aren't the purest in the world, but there are a lot of sports fans out there who wanted more information about this accident.
"My point is that sports fans are quite often wrestling fans (and vice versa), and that innate link is why WWF and WCW stories like this belong on a sports page. Where else would you look?"
Several sports editors saw the debate as one between those who still think like print journalists and those who understand the Internet.
"Let's not think like a newspaper, let's think like an Internet site," wrote Chuck Grimes of the Dallas Morning News Web site. "Too many of us still think like we work at newspapers and think in terms of space (newshole).
"This being the Internet, we should welcome the opportunity to run all kinds of sports items, regardless of whether we feel they are sports or not. Isn't our objective to create traffic on our site without grossly compromising our credibility?"
As a former print sports editor, where circulation figures reflect the overall number of papers sold rather than how many people read the sports section, I always left the professional wrestling news to the entertainment section. For credibility's sake, it seemed to me, it was a no-brainer.
As the former sports editor of USATODAY.com, however, where page view figures demonstrate which online pages drive the bus, the traffic from professional wrestling is awfully difficult to ignore.
In the online world, it's better to be on the bus than get run over by it, even when Vince McMahon is doing the driving.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 522
SANDOR SZABO, EX-MAT GREAT, DIES
(Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1966)
One of wrestling's greatest names, Sandor Szabo, died of an apparent heart attack Thursday morning at his home in Santa Monica. He was 60.
A native of Hungary, Mr. Szabo was an outstanding amateur wrestler in Europe prior to turning professional. He came to the United States in the early '30s and appeared at all of the major wrestling clubs.
He held the world heavyweight wrestling title several times during the late '30s (sic), competing against such performers as Strangler Lewis, Jim Londos, Ray Steele, Everett Marshall and Bronko Nagurski.
Mr. Szabo was an active wrestler up to 1960. He became a referee following his retirement from the ring and also was associated with another former wrestler, Jules Strongbow, in the Southern California wrestling booking office.
He leaves his wife, Lillian; two daughters, Sandra, of Clifton, N.J., and Mrs. Ronald J. Russell of Denver, and one grandson.
Funeral arrangements are pending with Murphy, Moeler and Murphy Mortuary in Santa Monica.
CAL GRAPPLERS SHARE SPOTLIGHT
(San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 12, 1966)
A pair of three-man tag teams will have to share the spotlight with two representatives of the "weaker sex" tonight in the Cow Palace wrestling program. First match is at 8:30.
The Fabulous Moolah will defend her women's championship against Bette Boucher in one feature and the Haystack Calhoun-Cowboy Billy Watts-Pepper Gomez tag team will oppose Ray Stevens-Pat Patterson-Tarzan Tyler in another.
Other matches: Cyclone Negro vs. Victor Rivera, Fritz Von Erich vs. Buddy Moreno, Thunderbolt Peters vs. Mongolian Stomper, Joe Scarpa vs. Kato Kongozan, and Al Torres vs. The Spoiler.
WATTS TEAM IS TAG VICTOR
(San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 13, 1966)
The team of Cowboy Bill Watts, Haystack Calhoun and Pepper Gomez defeated Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson and Tarzan Tyler in the six-man tag feature at the Cow Palace wrestling program last night.
A crowd of 12,747 contributed to a gross gate of $39,672.
Calhoun pinned Patterson with his big splash at 8:14, then Tyler came back to pin Watts with a knee drop and body press at 9:08. Gomez took the deciding fall at 8:12 with a Mexican cradle.
Watts, who also is the United States heavyweight champion, was carried from the arena on a stretcher with a badly sprained back, suffered when Tyler threw him from the ring. He will be incapacitated for an indefinite period.
Fabulous Moolah successfully defended her women's championship by taking two of three falls from Bette Boucher. Moolah scored first fall at 6:20 with a back breaker and Bette the second at 8:45 with a bombs away and a body crush. Moolah took the decider at 5:30 with another back breaker.
Cyclone Negro-Mongolian Stomper defeated Victor Rivera-Thunderbolt Peters; Fritz Von Erich defeated Buddy Moreno; Joe Scarpa defeated Kato Kongozan, and Al Torres defeated The Spoiler.
MORE GROAN THAN GRUNT
(San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 25, 1966)
By Ron Fimrite
Grieving over the sordidness of professional wrestling is about as meaningful an undertaking as bemoaning Calvin Coolidge's decision not to run for a second full term.
In fact, the Columbia Encyclopedia, third edition, coolly dismisses the sport with the observation that "by the end of the 1930s, professional wrestling had deteriorated into exhibitions of feigned competition and histrionic performances rather than legitimate athletic contests."
Harsh words, Columbia Encyclopedia, third edition. But all too true, I fear. The sport indeed is infested with all manner of grotesques, ranging from gnomes to shrews.
And the spectators are no less freakish. Wrestling fans, as a body, exhibit all the luminous intelligence of a company of Minutemen assembling in a Southern California orange grove.
Amateur wrestling is nicer, but it's about as stimulating as a meeting of the Parking Authority. Nothing visible to the human eye is happening. And one hears only the distant grumbles of hogs rocting in the ooze.
Yes, wrestling today is a far, far cry from Milo of Crotona and the formidable Ajax. It is almost as far from Strangler Lewis.
But I had no idea just how far until the other day, when I chanced to drift into the Red Balloon tavern and sporting emporium on Kearny street.
The apparently desperate proprietors of this gaudy establishment have installed -- oh, spare us -- "Topless Rassling" for the enrichment of their clientele.
I watched with mounting dismay as two pneumatic young ladies tugged and hauled at each other, in the fashion of one of those underground movies, on a cushioned mat. They were, of course, as bare from the waist up as Antonino Rocca.
The spectacle was about as aphrodisian as a cold shower.
This, I speculated in the gathering dusk, may be the end of wrestling as I know it. As I knew it, it was what we did after school every day.
"Ya wanna rassle?" one of my tiny confreres would challenge, and we would immediately fall into what we considered to be a steely embrace.
There was really only one hold -- the headlock. And we considered it unbreakable. As a result, the one who first clamped a skinny arm around the throat of his opponent was an instant victor.
My last wrestling match of this sort occurred when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Grappling with a youth who was, as to be expected, somewhat stronger than I, I found myself in danger of slipping into his lethal headlock.
With one last burst of strength, I pulled free. Unfortunately, my momentum carried me over the side of a ravine.
My fall was finally broken by a shattered whiskey bottle. The symbolism of this, needless to say, was not lost on me in later life.
But these were untainted days. Our afternoons were spent rassling and "sword fighting" with sticks. Evenings we went to the movies to watch cowards avenge themselves, as they did in the Mark of Zorro and Four Feathers.
(This last film, its greatness undiminished by the years, is, incidentally, scheduled to play this weekend at the Film Fair, 3149 Steiner street.)
Growing up was, as always, cruel. And the sort of wrestling I indulged in later could only loosely be linked to sport.
And although the danger was certainly ever present, I never again fell on a broken whiskey bottle.
MAD RUSSIAN KEEPS STATE MAT CROWN
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, Feb. 16, 1967)
Mad Russian (Stan) Pulaski retained his California heavyweight wrestling title by defeating Mr. Hoshino before 3,927 fans Wednesday night at the Olympic Auditorium.
Other results: Luis Hernandez drew with Hard Boiled Haggerty; Mark Lewin defeated Johnny Vander; Pedro Morales-Rickie Romero drew with The Preacher-Mighty Atlas; Mr. Moto drew with Magnificent Maurice.
HANS STEINKE'S FUNERAL NOTICE
(Chicago Tribune, Sunday, June 27, 1971)
STEINKE -- Hans Steinke, beloved husband of Betty; dear father of Anne Marie Rassilyer; grandfather of Michael Rassilyer. Funeral Tuesday, June 29, at 1 p.m. from Schmidt Funeral Home, 2058 Belmont Av., to Graceland Cemetery. Visitation after 4 p.m. Sunday.
(ED. NOTE -- Somebody left a death date lying around for the "German Oak" of the 1920-50 era and said this may, indeed, may have been the only mention of his death in the Tribune.)
MIDGET WRESTLERS TO APPEAR
(Anacortes, Wash., American, Dec. 12, 1973)
Two world famous battling midget wrestlers will collide in the special event of a professional wrestling card at the Anacortes Armory this Saturday night (Dec. 15).
Tiny Little, an 81-pounder from Louisville, meets 80-pound Little Atlas from New York in the special match.
The 8 p.m. card at the Armory, promoted by SuperStar Championship Wrestling, will feature a full cast of heavyweights as well.
The main event on the program is a tag team match sending the team of Arman Hussian and John Quinn against the pair of Eddie Sullivan and Lumberjack Luke.
Other bouts on the card pit the Siberian wildman, Bobo Mongol, against Marysville's Dick Cardinal and Paddy Ryan from Dublin against Dynamite Ray Steele.
The SuperStar card is the first of the season in Anacortes. Each Saturday SuperStar Championship Wrestling may be seen over KTNT-TV, Channel 11, Seattle-Tacoma, between 2 and 3 p.m., featuring many of these same wrestlers who will appear in Anacortes.
(ED. NOTE -- A small historical footnote to the above is that the future WAWLI Papers editor refereed the card. "Bobo Mongol" was Ron "Bull" Johnson. "Paddy Ryan" was better known as Bud Freeman.)
WRESTLER SILVERSTEIN DEAD AT 66
(Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1980)
Ralph "Ruffy" Silverstein, 66, a familiar wrestling figure in the Chicago area who along with other Jewish American athletes refused to go to the 1936 Olympics in Munich (sic), died Saturday in Hines Veterans Hospital.
Mr. Silverstein refused to attend the Games in protest of the anti-Semitic policies of Germany's Nazi government. That year, while attending the University of Illinois, he was the heavyweight champion of the Big 10 conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
As a professional, Mr. Silverstein was the American Wrestling Association heavyweight champion in 1952. In 1965, he was appointed as a coach in the seventh Maccabiah Games, held every four years in Tel Aviv.
During World War II, Mr. Silverstein served as an Army captain. Mr. Silverstein, of 1122 W. Lunt Av., also taught physical education at Nicholas Senn High School on the North Side.
He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; a son, Roger; and a daughter, Susan.
HISTORY OF KILLER KOX
(From the Killer Karl Kox website, as told to John Gardner in a personal interview.)
"The best gimmick man in the business." -- Eddie Graham
BORN 1931; Baltimore Maryland
"Pimlico racetrack was in my backyard, My brother and I would park cars for 10 cents in our yard, and on big race days we would charge 15."
Military: US. MARINE CORPS
Karl was in some of the worst battles of the Korean war. "I was in the military 3 years 9 months 4 days 37 minutes."
"I started wrestling in 1956, I was 25 years old."
"My first match was with a guy named "Ruffy Silverstein and I can still feel that SOB!"
"You see, I was an athlete, a football player, and all the old-timers would try me...I hated that! I would be so sore the next day I couldn’t move. Early in my career, I must have quit the business 3 or 4 times, I was tired of doing jobs on T. V. Then in 1961, The Sheik in Detroit sent me to Omaha, Nebraska and after that my career took off!"
"The thing I liked to do most in the ring was walk and talk"
"I could kill 15 or 20 minutes. And never touch my opponent."
"I would like to thank ALEX for his great advice over the years."
Who were some of your favorite opponents?
Dick Murdock , Mark Lewin, Red Bastien, Terry Funk, Dick Steinborn, Ricky Romero, Billy Robinson,and Baba, The list goes on and on.
Who were your favorite tag team partners?
Sputnik Monroe, Dick Murdock
Words from Koxie...To all the Boys:
"WOW! I really miss you and wish you the best! We really had a HELL of a good time, didn’t we !" -- Karl Kox (Herb Gerwig)
BLACK STARS OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING
From: Julian Shabazz firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tuesday, June 15, 1999 2:04 PM
Subject: Press Release (June 7,1999)
ADVANCED ORDERS BEING TAKEN ON NEW BOOK "BLACK STARS OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING" For Immediate Release (June 7,1999)
"Black Stars of Professional Wrestling", the new book by author Julian L.D. Shabazz will be published next month. Shabazz announced today that advanced orders are now being accepted for personally autographed copies.
The book features photos and biographies of Black professional wrestlers from the late 19th Century on up to today. Little known facts and rarely seen pictures tell the story of some of the most gifted but largely overlooked athletes of all time.
"This may just be the final frontier in the
history of the Black athlete. We all know the stories of the Black contribution
to baseball, football, basketball, boxing, tennis, even horse racing. But the
story of the Black wrestler is one that's never been told in this format,"
Readers will learn about legends like Reggie Siki, Woody Strode, Luther Lindsay, Tiger Conway, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Bearcat Wright, the first Black holder of a version of the world title. They'll even read about the stars of today like Booker T, Rocky Maivia, and Faarooq. Also covered will be Black females, midgets, and celebrity wrestlers from other sports throughout various decades this century.
This is a must have for any true fan of the
sport. To reserve a personally autographed copy of "Black Stars of
Professional Wrestling" send $12.95 plus name, address, and E-Mail (if
available) to: AWESOME RECORDS P.O. BOX 793 CLINTON,SC 29325.
The New WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Liked It) No. 523
(ED. NOTE -- The following articles were contributed to The WAWLI Papers by historian/researcher Mike Smith of Ojai, CA)
STRANGLER ED HEADLOCKS BIG MUNN
(San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 1927)
CHICAGO (Special) -- Ed Lewis still is heavyweight wrestling champion of the world, at least as far as Wayne Munn, the giant Nebraskan, is concerned. Lewis flopped Munn to the mat twice at the Coliseum tonight and the second time Munn flopped he was down to stay.
While the two beefy grapplers toiled and tussled around the ring, more than nine thousand fans craned their necks and stood on their seats in an effort to get a clear view of the ring.
Lewis won both falls by headlocks, taking the first after 57:55 of tugging and hauling and then pouncing on the dazed and staggering Munn to win the second fall after 12:33. In gaining the first fall Lewis applied a series of three headlocks on the big Nebraska boy and the final lock left Munn in a heap on one corner of the mat. When Munn came back for the second fall he appeared blinded and dazed and proved an easy prey for the wily Lewis.
Before the champion floored his foe in the opening fall, the rivals hauled each other around the ring in tug of war fashion. Lewis applied several headlocks and wrist locks which Munn broke with increasing difficulty as the match wore on. Twice Munn lifted Lewis off the floor with the crotch and half Nelson and dropped Lewis to the mat, but both times Ed quickly rolled away from danger.
After fifty-five minutes of this work, Lewis clamped on a headlock which he held for one minute. After breaking the lock, Munn again secured a crotch and a half Nelson, but he was weak and could not throw his opponent to the mat with any force and Lewis squirmed away and applied two more headlocks, the first of which Munn broke and the second of which left Munn flat on the canvas.
After Lewis released his final lock after having been awarded the fall, Munn lay on the canvas for a full minute before he attempted to arise, and then Wayne wobbled to his knees only to fall flat on his chest. And when the Nebraskan came back for the second fall he still was dizzy and reeling and Lewis clamped on three more headlocks and the match was over.
WRESTLERS TO FIGHT IT OUT WITH DUKES
(Associated Press, January 23, 1927)
KANSAS CITY, Kans. -- "Firpo" Wilcox and Nick Catalina, heavyweight wrestlers who couldn't keep their tempers during a wrestling match and resorted to fisticuffs, are to fight it out in a boxing ring here Wednesday night.
It all started when the pair, carded for a preliminary match of a wrestling card at Convention Hall of Kansas City, Mo., January 13, tried grappling for a minute or so and then began slugging at each other. Twice the referee cautioned them, and finally ordered them from the ring. The battle was renewed in the rear end of the hall en route to the dressing rooms.
To settle the argument in regulation style, with cash customers looking on, the erstwhile matmen were matched for the main event of a boxing show on the Kansas side of the state line, where boxing is legalized.
WRESTLER KNOCKS OUT HATED RIVAL
(Associated Press, January 26, 1927)
KANSAS CITY, Kans. -- John "Firpo" Wilcox, former Oklahoma University football player, kncoked out Nick Catalina of Chicago in the third round of a scheduled ten-round bout here tonight.
Wilcox and Catalina are heavyweight wrestlers, but met in a boxing ring tonight to settle a previous and informal affair of fisticuffs which termined their wrestling match in Kansas City, Mo., January 13.
FORMER LIFE SAVER PAUL BOESCH
(Ring Magazine, September, 1933)
By Sam Taub
New York's wrestling fans have marveled at the rapid rise of a young 200-pound boy who, from a life saver only a year ago, has become one of the leading grapplers in the East. Dame Fortune was with him when he was discovered by Jack Pfeffer, junior member of the famous wrestling group of Curley, Mondt and Pefeffer, for it was just a matter of luck that he was able to throw aside a thirty-dollar-a-week job for one that has netted him close to $10,000 during the past year. And it all happened in this way:
Pfeffer, with several friends, had gone to Long Beach, Long Island's popular seashore resort, to spend the afternoon prior to showing a group of his pachyderms at the local club. Jack had scarcely donned his bathing suit when he heard shouts for help. A young man had ventured beyond his head in a rather heavy sea, and a dozen or more huskies were swimming out to aid him. The young fellow had gone down once when help reached him.
A big, though young, life saver, powerfully built, using the famous Australian crawl, dived under the drowning boy, grabbed him and towed him towards the shore while thousands let out a lusty cheer. What Jack Pfeffer saw when the life guard came in with the rescued lad amazed him. He was all het up over the beautiful, symmetrically built physique of the guard, his broad shoulders and well developed muscles. As a wrestling impresario, he had seen many fine specimens of manhood, but here was a lad, who, in the opinion of Jack, would make a great wrestler.
"Look at that fellow," he shouted to his friends. "Did you ever see a better built athlete? A perfect man! The ideal wrestler, that is what he would make."
And with that, he rushed over to the life guard, shook his hand, congratulated him for his daring, and then inquired what college he attended.
"No college," replied the guard. "I just graduated from Long Beach High School and am making a little extra coin by working as a guard."
"Were you an athlete?" queried Pfeffer.
"Yes, I played basketball, baseball and was a member of other teams," replied the hero, after which he informed the inquirer that his name was Paul Boesch.
"You'll make a good wrestler, if you care to take up the sport," said Pfeffer. "How would you like to give up your job and join Jack Curley and me?"
"I'd like it very much," answered Boesch, "but I don't know anything about the sport other than the little I did just for fun in school."
"Never mind that," replied Pfeffer, "you don't have to worry. With your fine physique, your height, weight and your muscles, I'll make a good wrestler out of you in three months and then you'll find yourself earning more than you could get in any other line of work. What do you say?"
The bargain was struck. Paul accepted Pfeffer's proposition and the next day he reported to his mentor. For three months, Boesch and Pfeffer were seen regularly at Bothner's Gymnasium where Paul received instruction in the tricks of wrestling. He was an adept student. He learned so quickly that before a month had elapsed, he was ready for preliminary assignments. First he was placed against the weaker fellows and he gained his victories with such ease, that it wasn't long after that he gained semi-final matches; and before the winter was over, Paul was a headliner in New York and vicinity.
Pfeffer predicted a rapid rise for Boesch and Paul has made good. Pfeffer knew he had a good prospect in the life guard and his judgment has not proved faulty. Only 21 years old, Boesch should become one of the best grapplers in the business before he is through.
To date he has faced almost every star in the field and has come through with many victories. True, he has lost a number of keen tussles, but that was expected. Yet against the cream of American tlaent he has given such a fine account of himself that every one who has wrestled him has nothing but words of praise for Paul.
Only six months after he inagurated his "pro" mat career, Paul Boesch finds himself one of the most popular performers in the East, with promoters in all sectors keen for his services.
Boesch is content in the knowledge that his brief career as a grappler finds him almost on a par with Sammy Stein. Paul bowled over Herbie Freeman in their match at the Bronx Coliseum. The "Adonis" took many liberties with Freeman on that occasion and in the end Herbie was a well beaten warrior.
No wonder the Jack Curley-Jack Pfeffer outfit is smiling as its members look over their stars for next season. Besides the array of champions and near-champions -- including Jim Browning, Joe Savoldi, Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Gus Sonnenberg -- they also have a flock of wiry lads, ripe and ready for the big time, and expect to see the newcomers in the bone-crushing industry cope with the veterans and become stars ere the season is over.
And Boesch, happy in his new environment, is thanking the stars that sent Jack Pfeffer scurrying on a day's outing to Long Beach last summer. Only for that, the "Jewish Adonis" might still be languishing in the burning sun, with nary a thought in his handsome makeup other than a life of ease and a life or two to save. Who said there is no Santa Claus?
RATING WRESTLERS BY ABILITY, NOT CLAIMS
(Boxing News Record, 1937 edition)
By Nat Frank
Rating the outstanding wrestlers of the universe is indeed a problem. What with hundreds of rattling good grapplers in various sections of the universe, each man no doubt deserving of consideration to be listed in the select class of bonafide challengers!
Yet, after a careful study of what the stars have done in the past year, the writer has chosen two groups of matmen, comprised of eight men in each circle, and to these wrestlers go the distinct honor of being the leading lights in their profession.
At the present writing there are no less than five different grapplers laying claims to the championship, so rather than select them according to their claims, the matmen are chosen, not in the order of their true worth but in the class they belong. In other words, the wrestlers in group number one would invariably be superior to those in group number two. At the same time the wrestlers chosen in each group should not be judged in the order they are named.
The men herewith selected have earned their spurs to be mentioned among the elite:
GROUP NUMBER ONE
Yvon Robert, French Canadian
Steve (Crusher) Casey, Ireland
Cliff Olson, Minnesota
Ernie Dusek, Omaha
George (Dazzler) Clark, Scotland
Dean Detton, Utah
Danno O'Mahoney, Ireland
Everett Marshall, Colorado
GROUP NUMBER TWO
Jim Londos, Greece
Ed (Don) George, Buffalo
Vincent Lopez, California
Lee Wyckoff, Missouri
Earl McCready, Canada
Jack Sherry, Illinois
Henri Deglane, France
Daniel Boone Savage, Texas
A thumbnail sketch of each of the above mentioned standard bearers would be in order at this moment, so here goes.
YVON ROBERT, an ex-blacksmith, is credited with being the equal, if not the superior of any wrestler in the world. Yvon, who had gained recognition as champion in New England and Canada, met with an unfortunate accident when Cliff Olson broke his leg. Of course, Robert lost his laurels. Yvon is back in shape again and ready to set sail for his lost diadem.
STEVE (CRUSHER) CASEY, since coming to this country, has proved that he is one of the most serious contenders for the world laurels. Casey's Killarney Flip has the entire wrestling world talking. He is yet to be defeated and boasts of victories over some of the foremost contenders.
CLIFF OLSON, who separated Yvon Robert from his title claim with his own invention, the Outside Stepover Grapevine Leg Hold, has proved that he is no mere flash in the pan. Olson has been successfully defending his title claims ever since his win over the Canuck.
ERNIE DUSEK, the uncrowned champion. Nuf sed! When wrestling champions and contenders are mentioned, the Captain of the Riot Squad is sure of being among the elite. Credit must be given to this sturdy son of the State of Nebraska as the man to beat before a universal champion is finally acknowledged. How Ernie's recent bout with Dean Detton, one of the title claimants, staged at the Philadelphia Arena, January 15th of this year, ended is sure to be a topic of conversation wherever wrestling is concerned. Dusek, the challenger, had apparently won the title after three different verdicts were awarded. The claimant was a groaning, huddled mass on the edge of the ring apron, the challenger waiting for his return to action in the center of the ring. That is how the bout terminated. But the very next day Ernie Dusek had a rude awakening. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission met in Philadelphia and decided that Dean Detton was the victor via the foul route.
GEORGE (DAZZLER) CLARK, another recent invader from the other side of the Atlantic. Thsi Scotsman has brought his Highland Fling with him and he has been playing havoc with all who have faced him in mat competition in this country. Incidentally, Clark, like Casey, has an unbroken chain of mat victories.
DEAN DETTON, the Mormon from Utah, who also has a claim on the grappling championship. Detton, who recently was awarded a victory over Ernie Dusek ONE DAY AFTER THE MATCH WAS HELD, is probably the most fortunate man in the world that his title claims still remain in his possession. But with it all, Detton is a rattling good wrestler and belongs in this select circle.
DANNO O'MAHONEY, former champion of the world, who is better today than when he held the undisputed honors in the mat field. The Irishman recently returned to these shores feeling confident that he will regain his lost laurels if only given an opportunity. From the way he has been mowing down all opposition, it looks like the County Cork wrestler means what he says.
EVERETT MARSHALL, the Arm-Pull king from Colorado, who recently won championship recognition in Illinois, should be considered one of the leading men in the game. Marshall's only fault seems to be that he goes haywire just when victory seems in the offing. If he could only control himself, then he would boast of but few superiors.
And now we come to members of Group Number Two.
JIM LONDOS, the fiery Greek, who at one time claimed the championship of the world, through the good graces of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, seems to have turned in a new lease on life since being downed by Danno O'Mahoney. At the present time "Cheemie" is on a world tour and has been grappling with success. Yet, he can't be allotted Group One ranking until such time as he returns to prove his worth as a contender of the first flight.
ED (DON) GEORGE, former undisputed champion of the world, who like Londos has been doing most of his wrestling in foreign lands. He has been a consistent winner but the average sports fan knows that all the best wrestlers are in this country and until he proves his right to enter the group above, he must be satisfied with second group listing.
VINCENT LOPEZ, the Mexican from California, who formerly held recognition as world champion in his own state, seems to have been battling his way up there and it wouldn't be surprising to see him get within striking distance of his lost laurels real soon.
LEE WYCKOFF, whose sudden rise to fame was due to the New York Commission forcing Ed (Strangler) Lewis into a meeting with him. That bout ended in a draw, but since then Wyckoff has proved that the selection of the Empire State solons was a wise one.
EARL McCREADY, a Canadian, who is looked upon as a champion in the South Seas and Australia. McCready is a good wrestler but just about lacks the qualifications to step over into the first circle of the chosen octette.
JACK SHERRY, the Illinois star, whose main claim to fame is that he has been a consistent challenger to oppose any of the topnotchers. He really is a menace to the wrestling elite.
HENRY DEGLANE, the Frenchman, who also was a former kingpin of the grappling ranks, and an undisputed champion at that, has taken a new lease on life and has been a regular winner. Most of his bouts have been staged in European rings but from what the writer has heard, he surely deserves being mentioned with the rest of the "big shots."
DANIEL BOONE SAVAGE, the wildman from Texas, a bearded hillbilly giant, who has been acclaimed the titleholder in the Lone Star State. Savage seems to prove his superiority over his foes by sheer brute strength, but don't be fooled, he also knows many dangerous holds.
These are the writer's selections. There are other very good wrestlers, but no matter how we tried, we were forced to bow to the inevitable and to choose the wrestlers according to their accomplishments of the previous year. Our selections have come about through unbiased consideration. The above-mentioned matmen have earned their spurs through dint of consistent victories.
We sincerely hope that your findings are agreeable to you.
WRESTLING'S RIOT SQUAD -- THE DUSEKS
(Boxing News Record, 1937 edition)
By Nat Frank
They may be rough in appearance; they may be the tough men of the mat; they may be the most hated men in the grappling ranks.
'Tis no wonder that they are known as Wrestling's Riot Squad.
But . . .
No matter what their outward appearances may be; no matter what they do in the ring -- for you must not forget that's the way the Riot Squad makes a livelihood by getting the mat fans all "het up."
In times of great distress, such as the present awe rending, death taking, home breaking floods that are now rampant through the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, succor is begged for by the innocent and tortured victims.
So who should be the first to hear the pleas for aid? No one but Wrestling's Riot Squad, the group that has time and again and always will be the brunt of abuse hurled at them by the grappling fans.
Yes, the Riot Squad has become Humanity's Mercy Group for the simple reason that the head of the Riot Squad has insisted to the promoters that no matter where he is, or any of the other members of his group are billed, a certain amount of percentage MUST be deducted and sent to aid the flood sufferers.
In the trail have followed the other wrestlers and they too want to do their little bit.
Unfortunates, victims of earthquakes, the poor farmers who were suffering so badly during the drought, injured wrestlers, and now the residents of the flood territory have been aided through the help of the Wrestling Riot Squad.
And who is the Wrestling Riot Squad and in times of need the Humanity Mercy Group?
You guessed right.
The DUSEKS -- Rudy, Emil, Ernie and Joe.
May they, for many years to come, continue to be the chief mayhemists at their trade and may God spare them so that they can continue doing their "little bit" as members of the Humanity Mercy Group.
FEW CAN 'WORKSKI' AS DOES NAGURSKI
(Everlast Boxing Record, 1938 edition)
By Alex Sullivan
As far as the writer knows, Bronko Nagurski, undisputed world's heavyweight wrestling champion, is the first man who has ever made good in a big way in two professional sports. Jim Thorpe, the famous all-around Indian athlete, made good on the pro gridiron but fell down as a major league baseball player. Now Sammy Baugh, great player for the Washington Redskins, National League football champions, is trying is luck as a big-league baseball man, but it is doubtful if he will make good.
For eight years Bronko has starred with the Bears of Chicago. He has the best record of anybody in the history of monied football, as for five of the years he has played for the Windy City team he has been recognized everywhere as All-National League fullback. The reason that he didn't secure the same rating the other three years was because of injuries that kept him out of action for long periods.
During the last 6 years that Bronko has played with the Bears, they have won the championship twice and finished first in the Western division of the league three times out of five that the organization has been divided into two sections.
According to Bronko the 1934 Bears, although they failed to cop the title, was the best eleven he ever played on. They went through the entire schedule of 13 games without a defeat. However, in the playoff with the Giants at the Polo Grounds, they lost -- although at the end of the first half the score was 13 to 3 in their favor.
The reason for that surprising upset was that the game was played on a slippery, icy field and during the halves some quick-witted person provided sufficient tennis shoes to outfit the Giants, which made their footing sure and enabled them to run away with the honors.
The powerful Ukrainian grappler considers Dutch Clark, now coach of the Detroit Lions, but formerly a quarterback for that team, the greatest football player he ever saw in action. Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs is the best baseball player he ever saw and Jack Dempsey the greatest fighter.
Before he won the world's wrestling title from Dean Detton at Minneapolis last June 29, Bronko had 259 professional bouts of which he lost only one. He made his pro debut on the mat on Feb. 8, 1933, against Tag Tagerson and tossed him in four minutes. Since he defeated Detton, he removed at least four dangerous foes from the fields.
He not only defeated Vincent Lopez, former California champion, but repeated against Detton and also Daniel Boone Savage, who was recognized as a champion in Texas. He also took the measure of Chief Little Wolf, who scared Jim Londos out of the country after the Greek had signed to meet him in Los Angeles three years ago. Bronko also threw Ray Steele, who conquered Everette Marshall, another title claimant.
For over a year before he made his professional debut, Bronko, which is his right first name and popular with Ukrainians, spent hours daily in the gym, instructed by Tony Stecher, whose brother Joe was twice champion, and several other veterans who gave him a good schooling. Tony manages Bronko.
Consequently when Nagurski met Detton for the
title and diamond-studded championship belt he was well experienced as he had
over four years of pro experience against all-comers, including Ed (Strangler)
Lewis, four-times champion, whom he defeated easily.
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