The WAWLI Papers # 789...


Wrestler Johnny Valentine, unable to walk since being crippled in an airplane crash, will be the recipient of the first ever Cauliflower Alley Club Benevolent Association award, which is a cash contribution given to an individual in great need of financial assistance.

Both Johnny Valentine and his wife Sharon will appear February 10, 2001 at the Las Vegas Cauliflower Alley Club convention/banquet at the Riviera Hotel/Casino. At that time, the CAC will honor Johnny for his years in the business and award him both a plaque and cash (check). At this time he is seriously in great need of cash.

You, or any individual, can donate to this fund. All monies collected between now and February 10, 2001, will be given to the Valentines during the February 10th ceremony.

Your contribution (unless you'd rather remain anonymous), will be noted on the special award given to Johnny, listing your name and address (sorry, amount of your contribution will not be listed).

To donate to this very worthwhile cause, please send your check made out to the CAC Benevolent Fund and mail it to:

Cauliflower Alley Club
HCR 33, Box 107
Rolla, MO 65401

If you are unable to donate, we certainly invite you to attend the Las Vegas banquet in person, where you can show your appreciation to Johnny by being one of the guests in the banquet showroom when he and his wife are called to the stage.

Note: 100% of your donation will go to Johnny Valentine. The Cauliflower Alley Club is not keeping any portion of the money.

For additional information about the CAC, please check out this legendary organization’s web pages at Scott Teal’s dynamic, Whatever Happened To…? site:


(Peoria Journal-Star, August 3, 2000)

By David Moll

I would have known about this much sooner if I had the simple good taste to be a pro wrestling fan, but Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins was recently in town.

Corgan -- the baldheaded, shrill-voiced singer for the once-hugely-popular Chicago alternative rock band, which plans to disband later this year -- made a surprise appearance at the Extreme Championship Wrestling event at the Peoria Civic Center July 22.

Brought on stage with a guitar to sing the national anthem, Corgan had barely begun when ECW performer Lou E. Dangerously stopped him, saying that The Nashville Network (which airs ECW) didn't like his music.

Corgan smashed his guitar over Lou's head. Three of Lou's cronies came after Corgan, but fortunately for him, good-guy wrestlers Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn came to his defense. The usual ruckus ensued.

Corgan "broke his silence" about the Peoria debacle last week on ECW's Web site.

"Let me start by saying that this incident with 'Lou. E. Imitation' is a complete outrage," Corgan says. "For weeks, I had been looking forward to singing the national anthem in front of the good people of Peoria, Illinois. . .

"So after the warm reception I received from the crowd when I was announced as a surprise guest, what followed was like a bucket of cold water. Before I could play a note, I was attacked by Lou 'I used to be the Sign Guy but the Dudley's left me behind' Dangerously and his band of reckless thugs, Steve Corino, Scotty Anton, and Jack Victory.

"It was, needless to say, an unwarranted intrusion on my performance, and an insult that won't be easily forgotten. Lou may be the greatest manager in sports entertainment, but he is a no class individual who should be ashamed to call himself an American."

For a translation of all that -- including why Corgan refers to Lou E. Dangerously as "Lou E. Imitation," and what a "Sign Guy" is -- you'll have to ask someone more knowledgable than me.

The remarkable thing is that this was the second rock star/wrestler clash in Peoria in less than a year. Last November, Limp Bizkit's concert in the Civic Center Arena was interrupted by several ECW wrestlers, including the villainous Corino (ECW was in the Civic Center Exhibit Hall the same night).

"You are the epitome of what's wrong with the United States of America," Corino told profane Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, according to MTV News. Durst called out three ECW guys to back him up, and they beat Corino with a chair and a beer can while Durst pinned his arms back.


Subj: BODYSLAMS! - Quick Quotes Press Release

Date: 8/18/00 12:26:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: BODYSLAMS 2000

To: Oldfallguy

NEW YORK -- In anticipation of "BODYSLAMS! - Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman" penned by former WWF/WCW wrestling announcer, Gary Michael Cappetta, Little Bro' Ltd. has released a series of Quick Quotes from the text of the controversial book. Spanning Gary's twenty-one year career in pro wrestling, "BODYSLAMS!" chronicles the wacky world of wrestling's two most explosive decades as Cappetta shares his many experiences with the countless superstar wrestlers of Vince McMahon, Jr.'s World Wrestling Federation and Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling.

"There has been incredible interest generated by initial news reports of what Gary reveals in 'BODYSLAMS!'", says Little Bro' Ltd. media representative Sherry Lambert. "After reading the galleys of "BODYSLAMS!", I have no doubt that this project, independent from the WWF and WCW organizations, is the most truthful, most informative and most revealing account ever offered to the public about the pro wrestling business. And the best way to give readers a sense of Gary Cappetta's honesty and style is to allow them to read his well-chosen words for themselves."

The following Quick Quotes from "BODYSLAMS! -- Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman" have been released by Little Bro' Ltd. in advance of its October 3rd release date.

Vince McMahon, Jr.: "By maintaining a distance from the "underlings", he exerted a form of passive control. The message was clear. It was Vinnie's way of letting you know: "You are unimportant, so don't dare bother me." {Part One, Chapter 4}

Ric Flair: "As I got to know Ric better with the passing of the years, I came to marvel at his ability to have the best of times under the worst circumstances. He can be more playful than a cantankerous child, always with a devilish glimmer in his eye. Whether he's strip dancing on the bar top of a local gin mill or dancing up and down the aisle of a tour bus in Europe, he's always up for a party. But once he steps into the ring, there has never been anyone more professional. Few more skillful. Flair, with the cunning of a kid and the professionalism of an admired corporate executive, has always been one of my favorite wrestling buddies." {Part Two, Chapter 10}

Verne Gagne: "When Gagne retired in 1981, he did so with the belt still around his waist. At the age of 53, he just declared himself unbeatable. It didn't seem to matter that the future of his own company would have been better served if Verne, the legend, fell to a charismatic up and comer whose guts and determination could carry the fans' support into the post-Gagne era. That would have been a plan geared for the future. Instead, by walking away with the belt, Verne was saying, in effect, that no one else in his company, no matter how big, how strong, how young or how expert a wrestler, could take down the 53 year old icon." {Part Two, Chapter 8}

Lex Luger / Dusty Rhodes: "The only two {wrestlers in the NWA circa late 1980's} who were pushed without having solid ring skills were Lex Luger, for his sculpted physique and The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes, for his unequaled charisma and because . . . well, because as the boss, he booked himself." {Part Two, Chapter 10}

The Undertaker: "It seemed like hours before Mark {Calaway, The Undertaker} arrived at the other end of the small room. But in the time he took to confront his demon, more messages were sent than any amount of words could express. It was the stalking of The Undertaker two years too soon." {Part Three, Chapter 11}

Sting: "While the Stinger was one of WCW's top moneymakers, he never pulled rank on me with an elitist attitude." {Part Three, Chapter 12}

Steve Austin: "His disappointment bordered on anger, since when he signed with WCW, Steve expected that his always pleasant, petite British bride would accompany him on the road." {Part Three, Chapter 12}

Marc "Buff" Bagwell: "The Bagwells' week had not gone well. After only two days, Tanya had flown back to Atlanta in a rage. It didn't take her long to learn of her husband's custom of screwing the local arena rats at the Super 8 on our previous swings through Kansas City." {Part Three, Chapter 13}

Cactus Jack: "Cactus was forever asking me what I thought about the way WCW was handling his career. He feared that they weren't taking the Cactus Jack character seriously. And he was right." {Part Three, Chapter 13}

P.N. News {Paul Neu}: "His cussing and fussing, pouting then shouting only added to the amusement of the boys who were roaring at the sight of P.N.'s hissy fit." {Part Three, Chapter 14}

Nasty Boys: "But guys like the Nastys who love to pull pranks for the sake of a belly laugh either never consider the consequences of their actions or don't care or both." {Part Three, Chapter 15}

Sid Vicious: "Sid is blessed with the genetics of Superman and the luck of an Irishman, while inhibited by the ignorance and the arrogance of a street tuff hoodlum." {Part Three, Chapter 15}


September 1st - "BODYSLAMS!" Chapter Excerpts

October 6th - "BODYSLAMS!" Release Date

November 4th - "BODYSLAMS!", The Event

Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, NJ


Jeff Christner {Media Relations}

{212} 874-5300 Ext. 1556


(August 31, 2000)

NEW YORK -- The release of sensitive excerpts from the forthcoming pro wrestling book, "Bodyslams!," a reportedly hard hitting examination of the professional wrestling industry by former WWF/WCW TV announcer Gary Michael Cappetta has been delayed by the author's and publisher's legal counsel.

Upon the advice of attorney John Kelly of the firm, Davis & Davis, New York, the passages which were to be issued this Friday will be held up pending a closer examination of their content.

Sherry Lambert, a promotions representative for "Bodyslams!" has been assured that the book will go to press next week as planned in anticipation for its October 5th release.

"We have received numerous requests from newspaper columnists, radio hosts and internet shows interested in interviewing Mr. Cappetta. We will remain on schedule and we'll begin lining up media appearances next week. This delay is to be expected given Gary's straight forward style of writing to tackle some of the more sensitive issues that the wrestlers and corporate insiders never address."

Contact: Jeff Christner, Media Relations, 212-874-5300 Ext.1556


I am in the process of building my professional wrestling collection and I need information about Mr. Wrestling 2 (Johnny Walker). My main focus at this time is to get a decent-to-great picture of Wrestling 2 (a head shot would be super) so that I can have 2 masks made -- one to keep and one to have signed by Wrestling 2. I have heard that Wrestling 2 is retired in Hawaii -- once I am able to get a mask made, then I will search and or run ads in an effort to contact Wresting 2; thus, if there is any information about the whereabouts of Wrestling 2 in Hawaii or any schools that are run by him, I'd appreciate that, too.

In addition, and of secondary importance, any information concerning video taped highlights or complete matches would also be appreciated.

Please send responses via email or snail mail to:

J. Michael Blakely
2100 Roswell Road
Suite 200-C
PO Box 888
Marietta, Georgia 30062


WANTED: Mid-Atlantic Wrestling memorabilia -- I am interested in purchasing memorabilia from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling area (Jim Crockett promotions) from the time period 1974-1986 (with particular emphasis on the 1970s). This would include (but is not limited to) Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, programs, posters, line-up sheets, photographs, audio tapes, etc. If you have any memorabilia that you would like to sell, or could point us in the right direction, please contact me (Dick Bourne) at

Also, visit our tribute/history site to the Mid-Atlantic Area at where we have just added a page on Les Thatcher, which is actually just the beginning of a section we plan to devote entirely to him down the road. Les is one of our favorites from the Mid-Atlantic area in the 1970s.

Dick Bourne

The WAWLI Papers # 790...



By H. Allen Anderson

MANTELL, DUTCH (1881-1941). Dutch Mantell, professional wrestler, was born Alfred Albert Joe de Re la Gardiur on July 25, 1881, in Diekirch, Luxembourg, one of two sons of a French Protestant father and a Belgian Catholic mother. The family name, loosely translated, meant "one of the king's guards." As a small boy, Alfred became fascinated with the stories his father told about visits to the United States and soon longed to go there himself. After his father's death in 1891, ten­year­old Alfred was sent to live with an uncle in Germany. The uncle, a butcher by trade, wanted to pass his skills on to his nephew, but Alfred's dreams of going to America persisted. In 1893 he ran away and did various odd jobs before stowing away on a merchant ship in England late in 1895. He had hoped to land in America but instead wound up at Fremantle, Australia, in March 1896. Since prizefighting was quite popular there at the time, Alfred began boxing and later took up wrestling under the tutelage of Dan McCloud, a veteran in that sport. He soon attracted the attention of Robert B. Mantell, a Shakespearean actor, who offered to serve as his second in a bout at Melbourne. The two quickly became inseparable, and the teenaged wrestler with the difficult name came to be known among Australians simply as "Mantell's boy"; because of his heavy "Deutsch" (German) accent, he soon adopted the sobriquet Dutch Mantell in honor of his distinguished mentor.

The young rover's hopes of landing in the United States never diminished, and he made two trips to South America and England before finally stepping off the boat at New York City in 1900. For the next two years Mantell toured the eastern seaboard and circled the globe in wrestling bouts before joining the United States Navy in 1902. By the time he was discharged in 1906, he had become an American citizen. Over the next six years he toured the nation and built up a large following as a lightweight wrestler. After running out of competition in his own weight, which averaged 135 pounds, he took on opponents in the welterweight, middleweight, and even heavyweight categories; often he met 200­pounders in time-limit matches, which he never lost. Mantell's reputation as a hell­raising "villain" of the mat became legendary, and his use of unorthodox tactics to win matches often resulted in near riots. He further enhanced his career by capitalizing on that very image; many fans continued staging high­stakes matches just to see him get beaten, even though that seldom occurred throughout the peak of his career. From 1913 to 1915 Mantell was a member of Mack Sennett's Keystone Cops in Hollywood. In Sennett's silent film comedies he was distinguished by his big nose and heavy mustache. After resuming his professional wrestling tours in 1915, Mantell bested such big­name welterweights as Mattie Matsuda and Jack Reynolds, but never was able to gain official championship status because of his uncouth, crowd­inciting techniques. In El Paso in 1921 Mantell first met Cal Farleyqv when he stepped, uninvited, into the ring amid jeering fans and flying bottles to challenge the winner of the Farley­Matsuda bout being held there. Even so, his antics set a precedent for the theatrical showmen wrestlers of later times. During lean times he traveled with a carnival and sometimes worked in mines and logging camps. Although he had two marriages, neither lasted long because of his continual globe-trotting and penchant for giving away most of his earnings.

Mantell first visited Amarillo while on tour in 1906; he took an immediate liking to the "Queen City of the Panhandle" and included it often in his itinerary. There in 1923 he took on Cal Farley in at least two no­holds­barred matches. Yet while the "Flying Dutchman" was a mean customer in the ring, outside it he had a nationwide reputation as a soft touch. His honesty and concern for those less fortunate were practically unparalleled. With his trained animals he was a big hit with children, and the millions that he earned usually went to help needy families and homeless urchins. Although never affiliated with any specific church or denomination, he carried his Bible with him and read it almost daily for guidance. In 1925 Mantell made Amarillo his permanent home base and helped promote Cal Farley's Wun­Stop­Duzzit tire business; Farley's Flying Dutchman trademark was inspired by him. For fifteen years Mantell was a regular on Farley's radio show, along with Cecil (Stuttering Sam) Hunter,qv and was the featured performer in Farley's Flying Dutchman Circus.

Dutch Mantell continued intermittently in the ring until Sailor Moran kicked his front teeth out during a charity match in 1935, thus compelling him to wear dentures. Afterward, he devoted his time to promoting the sport and his humanitarian causes. Though he acquired some rent property in the San Jacinto Heights area, his liberal giving habits eventually caused his friends in Amarillo to take over his finances completely and dole out his income. He was stricken with cancer during the last year of his life and died at Northwest Texas Hospital on January 31, 1941; he was interred in Llano Cemetery. As he had specifically stated in his will, his remaining finances were divided between the Maverick Club in Amarillo and Cal Farley's Boys Ranch,qv two organizations that he had helped build and ardently supported.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, February 1, 1941. Beth Feagles Day, A Shirttail to Hang To: The Story of Cal Farley and His Boys Ranch (New York: Holt, 1959). Louie Hendricks, No Rules or Guidelines (Amarillo: Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, 1971).

By H. Allen Anderson

FUNK, DORRANCE WILHELM (1919-1973). Dorrance Wilhelm (Dory) Funk, professional wrestler, one of three children of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Funk, was born in 1919 at Hammond, Indiana. During his high school years there he was Indiana state high school wrestling champion for three years and Indiana Amateur Athletic Union champion for a year. After graduating from high school he entered Indiana University, where during his senior year he was elected to the Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame. After serving in the navy during World War II,qv Funk turned professional and was paid ten dollars each for his initial victories.

In 1949 he moved to Amarillo, Texas, and soon built up a reputation as a "two-fisted buster" who had no qualms about smashing an opponent with a chair; yet while he was intimidating inside the ring, outside it he was noted as a good family man and an outstanding humanitarian. In 1950 Funk began his legendary stint as superintendent at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch.qv A group of rebellious teenagers had threatened to toss the previous superintendent into the Canadian River, and Farley requested that Funk come "help out" at the ranch for at least two or three months until things quieted down. Funk agreed to do so and invited the young toughs to "work out with him" on the mat, demonstrating his strength by showing the boys holds and other wrestling techniques. He quickly won their admiration, and during his superintendency the population of the ranch was doubled. Funk and his family remained for three years at Boys Ranch, where he served as football coach in addition to his administrative duties.

In 1953, soon after reluctantly leaving Boys Ranch, Funk moved his family to a ranch and country home on land south of Umbarger, in Randall County, adjoining the Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge.qv Between wrestling tours he continued supporting Boys Ranch and worked closely with the Kids, Incorporated, program in Amarillo. Once he gave a terminally ill girl a large sum of money and treated her poverty-stricken family to an outing at the Six Flags Over Texasqv amusement park, but most of the time he preferred to keep such acts of generosity secret. For the remainder of his life Dory Funk promoted wrestling and encouraged others to take up the sport. On June 3, 1973, while demonstrating a face lock to a friend at his Umbarger ranch, Funk suffered a heart attack. He died shortly afterward at St. Anthony's Hospital in Amarillo. He was buried in Dreamland Cemetery at Canyon.

Funk was married twice. He had two sons from his first marriage and a daughter by his second wife, Betty. His sons, Terry and Dory, followed in their father's footsteps as professional wrestlers; Dory became the only Texan to hold the World Championship belt. In 1974, a year after Funk's death, a scholarship fund was established in his memory at West Texas State University.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, June 4, 1973. Beth Feagles Day, A Shirttail to Hang To: The Story of Cal Farley and His Boys Ranch (New York: Holt, 1959).

By H. Allen Anderson

CAL FARLEY'S BOYS RANCH. Cal Farley's Boys Ranch was founded in 1939 by Cal Farley,qv former professional wrestler and Amarillo businessman, on the site of Old Tascosa in Oldham County. The original 120 acres was given by Julian Bivins, son of Lee Bivinsqv and himself a prominent Panhandle rancher, who died in a plane crash a year later. The ranch opened in March 1939 with five boys housed in the old county courthouse, which also served as the first headquarters of the institution. Chanslor Weymouth,qv Ralph Dykeman, and other leaders from the Maverick Club, the Rotarian boys' club of Amarillo, formed the first board of directors of the ranch. They sought to help Farley provide "the boy nobody wanted" with "a shirttail to hang to," and Farley used his radio program to promote the ranch. As contributions increased, more facilities were added, and full-time staff members were hired; Alton Weeks, a cousin of Cecil (Stuttering Sam) Hunter, was the first superintendent, and Mrs. Maude Thompson was the first cook. Overall, the boys were provided with a "home-ranch" atmosphere. Among their privileges they were allowed to keep pets and maintain a pet cemetery. By 1941 twenty-five young "ranchers" were crowded into the old courthouse.

During World War IIqv Farley often raised money by having Amarillo school children hold bond drives. The first annual Boys Ranch Rodeo was staged in 1944. That decade the ranch gained national attention through such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post and Reader's Digest. In 1946 it received its biggest boost when it became the subject of the M-G-M movie Boys Ranch, with James Craig and Dorothy Patrick as Cal and Mimi Farley and the young ranchers as extras. Such celebrities as Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunny, J. Edgar Hoover, and Roy Rogers were among the ranch's friends and supporters, along with businessmen like Eugene A. Howeqv and Lawrence R. Hagey. By 1949 Boys Ranch had over 100 residents, expanded acreage, and several new buildings moved from military bases after the war, including a gymnasium. By that time Farley had sold his Wun-Stop-Duzzit tire shop to devote full time to the ranch, and that year the ranch began printing its own newsletter, the Round-up.

In 1950, after a group of rebellious teenagers had threatened the previous superintendent, Farley averted further problems by hiring a professional wrestler, Dorrance Funk.qv Funk and his family became immediate favorites among the youngsters and remained at the ranch for three years, during which time the resident population doubled. In 1955 the new Boys Ranch Independent School facilities were opened. The old courthouse continued to be used as a dormitory until 1963, when it was renovated and opened as the Julian Bivins Museum. By 1966 more than 1,400 acres had been added to the ranch, which cared for 346 formerly homeless boys between the ages of four and eighteen, from thirty-seven states. The boys lived in eleven dormitories, nine of which housed thirty-six boys and two staff families each, and two of which housed the youngest boys. There were sixteen additional buildings for educational, sports, and vocational training and a nonsectarian chapel. In addition to the annual rodeo, football, basketball, and baseball are among popular sports at Boys Ranch, which has its own post office. After the deaths of Cal and Mimi Farley in 1967, the ranch was run by their daughter and son-in-law, Gene and Sherman Harriman.

The ranch is supported solely by contributions. By 1973 2,500 boys from every state and several foreign countries had been educated, trained, and cared for at the ranch without cost to any governmental, church, or civic agency. In April 1987 Girlstown, U.S.A., merged with Cal Farley's Boys Ranch. Afterwards the Boys Ranch general fund financed much of the Girlstown operations. Cal Farley's Family Program oversaw the Girlstown facility at Borger-providing homes for male and female elementary school age children. The Boys Ranch also provided a scholarship and loan fund for eligible applicants at the Girlstown campus at Whiteface. In 1994 the resident population of Boys Ranch was 412, and it was a co-ed facility. In the center of this ranching community stands a memorial to its founder, who dedicated his life to helping "the bottom ten percent of the Nation's youth."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Beth Feagles Day, A Shirttail to Hang To: The Story of Cal Farley and His Boys Ranch (New York: Holt, 1959). Louie Hendricks, No Rules or Guidelines (Amarillo: Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, 1971).

By Louie Hendricks

FARLEY, CAL (1895-1967). Cal Farley was born on December 25, 1895, at Saxton, Iowa. He and his twin sister, Zaida, were the youngest of six children of Frank and Jennie Farley, who later moved to a small farm near Elmore, Minnesota. The product of a loveless marriage which ultimately ended in separation, Cal learned early how to fend for himself. He found an escape in baseball and other sports and soon revealed a remarkable athletic prowess. At the age of sixteen he left home and began playing semiprofessional baseball. In 1917 he enlisted in the army and was sent to Europe for combat in World War Iqv with Company C, Sixth Engineers, Third Army Division. During the postwar occupation, the American Expeditionary Forces and Inter-Allied Games athletic programs were held in Paris, France, where Farley was a member of the American team. In welterweight wrestling he defeated Walter O'Connor for the AEF championship and George Bridges of Australia for the Inter-Allied Games title. Farley continued in professional wrestling after the war. His relationship with Dutch Mantell,qv a wrestler from Luxembourg, remains a sports legend. He also played baseball in the minor leagues.

In 1923 Farley settled in Amarillo, Texas, where he acquired a defunct tire shop and built it into a $750,000-a-year business. He also pioneered department-store merchandising in Amarillo and for fifteen years broadcast a daily radio program. Mantell and comedian Cecil Hunter, known as "Stuttering Sam," were among the star performers in Farley's show. In 1924 Farley married Mabel (Mimi) Fincher. Their daughter and only child, Gene, born in 1926, was named after Farley's longtime friend, boxer Gene Tunney.

In January 1934 Farley, along with others, started the Maverick Club, an organized program of athletics designed to keep boys constructively occupied. By 1966 Kids Incorporated, an outgrowth of the Maverick Club, was helping over 10,000 boys aged six to sixteen years to become involved in athletics; the boys were supervised by more than 1,500 adult volunteers. Some boys, however, could not be helped by the Maverick Club because of their lack of supervision and encouragement at home. For these boys, which he called "the lower 10 percent of our nation's youth," Farley founded Cal Farley's Boys Ranchqv in 1939. His work became more widely known, and he received requests to take boys from all over the country. In 1947 he sold his business so that he and his wife could devote their lives to helping homeless and delinquent boys. The famous professional wrestler Dorrance (Dory) Funkqv was among those who served on Farley's staff. Jack Dempsey, J. Edgar Hoover, and Roy Rogers were among Farley's staunchest friends and supporters.

For his career as an athlete, businessman, and humanitarian, Farley was honored many times. He was a district governor of Rotary International and is in the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. For his work with boys he was named Outstanding Citizen of Texas and given the Veterans of Foreign Wars Silver Citizenship Medal, the Bronze Keystone Award of the Boys Clubs of America, an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in 1963, and the Democracy in Action Award in 1966 by students at Long Beach, California. On February 19, 1967, he died suddenly while attending chapel services with the boys at the ranch. Mrs. Farley died on March 19, 1967, at Hermann Hospitalqv in Houston. They were both buried at the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Beth Feagles Day, A Shirttail to Hang To: The Story of Cal Farley and His Boys Ranch (New York: Holt, 1959). Louie Hendricks, No Rules or Guidelines (Amarillo: Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, 1971). John L. McCarty, Maverick Town: The Story of Old Tascosa (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946; enlarged ed. 1968).


(Amarillo Globe-News, Tuesday, September 14, 1999)

By Rick Storm

AMARILLO, Texas -- The mat men were primed, and the ring was ready as this Sept. 14, 1933, Amarillo Daily News story sized up the night's coming rasslin' extravaganza.

"With Yaqui Joe in town 24 hours before the match, so unusual that it's mentioned here, the stage is set for two big wrestling bouts tonight at the National Guard Armory.

"The Indian, who has as big a following here as almost any grappler, tangles with Billy Hallas, whose backing has always been of the negative kind -- the fans come out to see him lose -- in the three-fall final.

"Cyclone Mackey, Amarillo's favorite contender for the welterweight title Cal Farley failed to bring here on two occasions, meets a rising young Mexican star in a three-fall, 45-minute semifinal.

"Pablo de Latorje appeared in several prelims here. He showed signs of ability that soon will make him a finished grappler. But he is young and has never had a real test. He asked for one.

"And matchmaker Dutch Mantell gave him Cyclone Mackey. It will be a real test all right, one that will undoubtedly be too much for the Mexican, but that's what he needs as a starter.

"Hallas and Mackey are fighting for another shot at Sailor Moran, which at first glance doesn't seem to be much incentive to win. But both grapplers feel they can defeat the Arkansas gob and are anxious for another chance.

"Moran left Amarillo last week because of illness in his family, but he will be back to again perch on his local wrestling throne, he assured fans before he departed.

"Prelims will open tonight's card at 8 o'clock. Admission is 60 cents ringside, including federal tax, 40 cents general admission and 10 cents for women and children."

The WAWLI Papers # 791...


(Associated Press, Sunday, July 27, 1997)

DALLAS -- Jack Adkisson, patriarch of the Von Erich wrestling clan, has been admitted to a Dallas hospital after suffering a mild stroke.

Officials at Baylor University Medical Center said Friday that doctors discovered a cancerous tumor while evaluating Adkisson, known in the wrestling world as Fritz Von Erich.

Adkisson will undergo exploratory surgery this weekend to better assess his condition, said hospital spokesman Jamie Rambo. He was listed in fair condition Friday and was admitted Tuesday, she said.

Adkisson is the patriarch of a wrestling family whose name was long associated with triumph in Texas. But in recent years, there's been mostly pain. Five sons - Kevin, David, Kerry, Mike and Chris - also wrestled under the Von Erich name. And four of them are now dead, three from suicide.

David, probably the best wrestler of the sons, died at the age of 25 in 1984 from an apparent overdose while on a wrestling tour of Japan. Suicide claimed the lives of Mike, 23, in 1987; Chris, 21, in 1991; and Kerry, 33, in 1993. Another son, Jack Jr., died at the age of 7 in 1959 from electrical shock.

The only surviving son is the oldest, Kevin, 39.

Until Fritz Von Erich retired in 1980, he was one of the stars of professional wrestling. He stood 6-foot-4 and weighed 260 pounds and once was a lineman for Southern Methodist and the Dallas Texans. He turned to wrestling in the 1950s after being injured.

World Class Championship Wrestling, the Von Erich family's show, was syndicated at one time in 66 U.S. television markets, Japan, Argentina and the Middle East.

The Von Erichs once wrestled in front of 40,000 people at Texas Stadium and regularly filled the arenas where they competed.

(ED. NOTE – Jack Adkisson, aka Fritz Von Erich, died September 10, 1997.)


(Missoula Independent, May 8, 1998)

By Chad Dundas

Professional wrestling is NOT fake. Let's get that much straight. Anyone who tells you different is a scoundrel and a liar. The action might be staged and the fighting carefully choreographed, in the kayefabe tradition, but true wrestling fans wouldn't have it any other way.

When you sneak out this Saturday, with the ticket you don't want your friends to know you bought, to watch the Bad Boys of Wrestling bring their controlled mayhem to the University of Montana, just remember that the name of the game is entertainment. To that end, promoters have made sure to push angles involving heels, faces and black hats in the hopes of generating heat from the marks in attendance. (See sidebar for the translation.)

And if the rest of you stop sniveling "this is sooo fake" for five seconds, you might just have some fun. As Shakespeare said, the play is the thing.

True enough, the action put forth at the Harry Adams Fieldhouse probably won't equal the flash or the pop of the first-rate combat seen on cable. And don't expect arms or legs to break because, unless someone misses their cue, it won't happen.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine are admittedly well past their prime, but these veteran pros are near legendary nonetheless. Doink the Clown and the One Man Gang round out the veteran roster, and the supporting cast features a number of one-time greats as well as some younger types possibly on the verge of a breakthrough.

Meanwhile, midget wrestlers Beautiful Bonnie and Little Kato will provide novelty-as if added oddity was needed-while former "Fabulous Freebird" Terry Gordy brings the ultimate in old-school appeal.

Such attractions may drive you to try and short-change pro wrestling as a weird fringe sport for deviants and little kids, but we know you love it.

And according to recent Neilson ratings, you're not alone. The numbers indicate a large number of closet rasslin' fans. Professional wrestling's two major nationally-syndicated, prime-time television shows suck in more than 25 million Americans each week. Those viewers can't all be drunk, cigar-smoking grandmas.

To wit, your anthropology major roommate might mock your Jake the Snake T-shirt in public. But when he's alone chances are he flips on WWF's Monday Night Raw and grooves to what he calls a "dramatic reenactment of ritual." He's just too sissy to admit it in front of his girlfriend.

Of course, there will always be people unwilling to accept wrestling-those who try to give away its secrets and those who seek to destroy the myth. These are the same people who want to strip-search the magician after the show, looking for the missing rabbit. They are sick and need help.

As the well-traveled superstar Jeff Jarrett recently said: "For those who believe, no explanation is needed. For those who don't, no explanation will do."

In other words, you should be proud to be a fan, because pro wrestling is for real. It's the rest of life that's fake.

(The Bad Boys of Wrestling "Clash of Champions" rocks the Adams Fieldhouse, Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. Front-row ringside seats $30, rows 2 through 12 $20, general admission $12, $6 kids 12 and under.)

FRANK GOTCH 1878-1917

Born in Humboldt, Iowa. Married: Gladys Oestrich. Frank Gotch wrestled in more than 300 matches over his career, and his record was 158 wins 9 losses. Also he did over 200 handicap matches that lasted fifteen minutes or less, exhibitions, benifits, and impromptu matches during his career.His first career victory over an older opponent was his teacher in school. Gotch was only 16 years old. If Gotch is to be remembered for one match, it had to be the one against Hackenschmidt for the title. Gotch won in 2 hrs. and 3 mins. His most famous move is stilling being used today in Professional wrestling today, a move similar to the step-over toe hold.

Having trained under the legendary Farmer Burns, Gotch first made a run at the big time when he challenged Tom Jenkins for the American Championship in 1903. His lack of experience was evident as Jenkins easily defeated him but one year later, Gotch secured the championship from Jenkins and began a title reign that would last for over eight years. The American Championship, however, was not the most coveted wrestling title of all. That honor would lie in the World Championship title and that title was held by the "Russian Lion" Georges Hackenschmidt.

In 1908, Gotch took on the great Hackenschmidt for the world free-style Heavyweight Championship. From the start, Gotch was the aggressor and defeated Hackenschmidt. Many fans and writers criticized Gotch claiming he had used unfair tactics to win the belt. Gotch responded by giving Hackenschmidt an opportunity to win back the title at Comisky Park in Chicago, Illinois in what was the most heavily anticipated match to that point in history. In this match, Gotch again defeated the injured former champion.

Frank Gotch is considered by many as the first great Professional Wrestling Champion - the N.W.A., in fact, still traces the roots of its organization as having begun with its recognition of Gotch as its champion.For more than 90 years, he has been the standard by which many have been judged.


April 2: Frank Gotch makes his pro debut, defeating Marshall Green in Humboldt, Iowa.


The first tag team matches are held in the United States, in San Francisco.


February 22: "Champion of America" Tom Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch in Cleveland, Ohio. The match goes two straight falls and lasts approxiamtely 1 hour 45 minutes.


On January 27th, in Bellingham, Washington USA, Frank Gotch captures the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship, as he defeats Tom Jenkins in two straight falls. While Gotch wins the first fall with a pin, the second fall results in a controversial victory for Gotch as Jenkins is disqualified for fouling him.


On March 15th, at New York's Madison Square Garden, Tom Jenkins overcomes bad press from an unsuccessful title challenge in Cleveland the month before, to regain the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship, taking the third and final fall from Frank Gotch in 10 minutes and 31 seconds.

December 27: Frank Gotch defeats Emil Maupas in the final of a 50-man tournament in Montreal to win the Greco-Roman Championship of Canada; the match went two straight falls, 61 and 22 minutes.


On May 23rd, Frank Gotch recaptures the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship from Tom Jenkins, despite losing the first of the best two out of three falls contest in 26 minutes. Gotch recomposes himself to defeat Jenkins in 14 minutes and 17 minutes in the second and third falls. Frank Gotch defeats "Champion of America" Tom Jenkins in two straight falls, 14 and 17 minutes.

On December 1st, in New Orleans, Louisiana USA, Fred Beell stuns the wrestling world with an upset win over Frank Gotch. Sixteen days later, on December 17th, in Kansas City, Missouri USA, Gotch takes the title back in a lopsided two straight fall victory.


On April 3rd, at Dexter Park Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois USA, Frank Gotch beats George Hackenschmidt to win the undisputed World Heavyweight title that some say was three years in the making. The victory, however, has its share of controversy as Hackenschmidt accuses Gotch of oiling his body in an effort to avoid being grabbed, and after two hours and three minutes, quits the match, forcing the referee to award the title to Gotch. Promoter W.W. Wittig proces the highest tickets at $40 a seat.


April 14: Frank Gotch, in his first big US match following a UK tour, defeats Bulgarian wrestler Yussiff Mahmout in two straight falls (8:00 and 9:10) at Chicago's Dexter Park Pavilion.


June 1: In what many termed his crowning achievement, World Champion Frank Gotch defeats Stanislaus Zbysko in the first fall of a Chicago contest in 6.4 seconds! The second fall also won by Gotch, went 27:33; Zbysko, at the time, was in his prime, and it is his first loss in 945 matches.


On September 4th, three and a half years after their controversial first meeting, Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt square off again at Chicago's Comiskey Park, with Gotch dominating the match and taking two straight falls, as Hackenschmidt injured his knee in training for the match. The live gate of $87,053 is the biggest ever at the time.


October 2: Legendary Texas promoter Paul Boesch is born in Brooklyn, New York.


On April 1st, Frank Gotch announces his retirement in Kansas City, Missouri USA, as World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, following a successful title defense against George Lurich.


Frank Gotch dies.



Frank Gotch is considered by many to be the top professional wrestler of all-time. And he wrestled before it was entirely acting and showmanship.

Gotch came from Humboldt, Iowa around the turn of the century. He wasn't an enormous steroid-enhanced giant like the stars of today, but a quick, agile wrestler who could also break legs of his opponents with his famous "toe hold" move.

In 1903, Gotch wrestled Tom Jenkins in his first championship bout for the American, but lost. The next year, Gotch claimed the title, which he held for eight years. As the American Champ, Gotch would try to wrest the title of "World Champion" away from the big Russian Georges Hackenschmidt.

Gotch took the World Heavyweight Championship away from the Russian Bear in 1908. The match lasted an amazing two hours and three minutes. Back then, all the matches were a best two out of three falls. But, Hackenschmidt refused to return after the first fall and forfeited the match to Gotch. The match brought in $85,000, a record that would hold for many years to come.

Some critics claimed Gotch was using unfair tactics and maneuvers. So Gotch gave him a rematch and again soundly defeated Hackenschmidt, in less than 30 minutes this time.

Gotch finished his pro career with a record of 158 wins and 9 losses and his "toe hold" move is still used today.

The WAWLI Papers # 792...


(The State News, June 10, 1998)

By Mike Hudson

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Palace of Auburn Hills hosted enough celebrity Monday night to fill a small city. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Brett Hart, Sting, Roddy Piper, Eddie Guerrero, Kevin Nash, Dennis Rodman — the list could go on.

And the only event powerful enough to draw this amount of talent was World Championship Wrestling Monday Nitro.

Three hours of pure wrestling excitement — a dream come true to the many fans in attendance. The smell of the pyro, the Nitro Girls, the overwhelming thunder of music and cheers and the voice of Tony Schiavone announcing, "You are looking live!" to the millions at home.

Ladies and gentleman, I love wrestling. It’s a sure thing, your ace in the hole if you will. Once you hear "Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko or "Iron" Mike Tenay live and in person, or even on TV, you know you have found something worth your while.

WCW proved once again that it’s the No. 1 pro-wrestling league, no holds barred. With an estimated audience of more than 6 million viewers and a capacity crowd at the Palace, the stage was set for true wrestling mayhem.

Michael Buffer warmed up the crowd with his trademark "Let’s get ready to rumble!" and the evening never slowed down.

The crowd was treated to Hammer’s clothes-lining, Chris Jericho’s crying, Rick Rude’s ranting, Hogan’s scowling, Savage’s "owh, yeaah!"ing, Roddy Piper’s kilt-wearing and Disco Inferno’s dancing. Not to mention Dean Malenko’s "Texas Cloverleaf," the enormous trapezious muscles of Bill Goldberg and an untelevised match between Sting and Giant.

For those fans who couldn’t be there, you missed a classic. Giant came into the ring with a cigarette and infuriated Sting by blowing smoke in his face.

The crowd chanted, "Giant sucks," but the big man remained undaunted. Instead, he flipped off the audience, taking full advantage of the lack of TV cameras. From that point, wrestling fans knew it was going to be amazing.

After exchanging blows, the Giant began pounding Sting with body slams and big boots to the head and midsection. Sting rebounded with his trademark "Stinger Splash," leaving the Giant weary.

The tide turned several times, but Sting eventually took the match with his "Stinger Slam." A enraged Giant choke slammed the referee and left the arena, closing the evening with a bang.

Beyond the action of the evening, I believe something truly meaningful occurred.

Beyond the swearing of the guy behind me, beyond the beer I spilled on myself and beyond the stern look on the face of the security guy who didn’t seem to care that I was a journalist — something happened.

While waiting in line, I spoke with a man who was taking his son to the event.

We shot the breeze, reminiscing about Andy Kaufman, Jerry Lawler, the Sheik and Captain Lou Albano. He said something any wrestling fan could understand: "I remember when I was your age — I was all into this stuff. Those were good times."


(The State News, April 14, 1999)

By Greg Mullin

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The sound of shattering glass signals the entrance of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

Heavy-metal music blaring, he bursts through the backstage curtain and races into the arena — a huge video wall behind him, screaming fans on three sides — toward his arch nemesis, "The Rock."

The 11,000 fans at Breslin Student Events Center, many clad in "Austin 3:16" shirts, roar in approval as Austin proceeds to pummel "The Rock" and his manager, Shane McMahon, with two Stone Cold Stunners. The stunner is Austin’s signature move. It involves victims being kicked in the gut, their faces driven to the canvas.

Austin leaves, but not before flipping his middle fingers in the air and screaming various obscenities.

It’s another day at the office at the World Wrestling Federation.

"How many people would like to tell their bosses to piss off every night? Steve Austin does it for a living," WWF wrestler D’ Lo Brown said. "It’s (fans’) way of expressing themselves and expressing what they would like to do through us."

These days, more and more people live vicariously through Austin and his fellow grapplers.

Each week, about 35 million viewers tune into the 15 hours of wrestling programming available between the WWF and World Championship Wrestling.

The hybrid of sports, entertainment and Hollywood-style script writing is catching on — fast.

"It’s basically a soap opera," said Scott Shirey, an MSU family and community service senior and lifelong wrestling fan. "When you add the storylines with the fighting, everyone likes it. People are starting to figure it out."

The WWF has made two recent appearances at Breslin Student Events Center. More than 11,000 fans packed Breslin on Sunday for a live national broadcast of "Sunday Night Heat."

A sell-out crowd of up to 12,000 attended the WWF’s "Raw is War" taping on Sept. 29, 1998.

"It’s not often that you bring an event back two times within a seven-month period," said Tara Peplowski, marketing and sales manager for Breslin. "The WWF and big-time wrestling is a phenomenal sensation."

Professional wrestling’s influence on viewers, and sometimes viewers’ parents, is greater than ever.

There’s been a recent swarm of media attention on professional wrestling. ABC’s "20/20" and ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" aired exposé on the sport.

Much of the controversy stems from the WWF’s new "hardcore" programming.

Austin is the WWF’s top draw. He’s portrayed as a beer-swilling, foul-mouthed redneck. Austin plays the traditional bad-guy role, but his runaway popularity with the fans has led professional wrestling’s renaissance.

In the mid-1980s, professional wrestling came to the forefront of popular culture. Adding celebrities (such as Muhammad Ali and Liberace) and music stars (such as Cyndi Lauper) to the action, the WWF evolved into "Wrestlemania," the event that put the WWF on the map.

The event showcased the WWF’s product to the country, introducing stars like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper to a national spectrum.

"Rock ’n’ roll is one of the things that gave professional wrestling its spectacle look," said Gary Hoppenstand, an MSU American Thought and Language professor and popular culture expert. "Cyndi Lauper and her association with Hulk Hogan really took professional wrestling out (of) a television cult status and made it truly a wide and popular culture entertainment."

WWF wrestlers gained publicity in several MTV shows and music videos, including Lauper’s "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, which starred wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano.

The bond between music and wrestling was formed.

"(Pro wrestling) does spectacle about as well as anything, outside of rock ’n’ roll," Hoppenstand said. "As with all popular culture, to remain healthy, they have to continue to please and cater to the specific needs of its audience. Professional wrestling has been very effective (at evolving) over time."

After the popularity of the rock ’n’ wrestling connection subsided, wrestling went on a downswing for several years.

WCW usually played second fiddle for most of the next decade, until the formation of the New World Order. Using the deep pockets of its owner, Ted Turner (owner of the Atlanta Braves and several cable TV networks), WCW brought big-name stars — Hogan, Piper, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash — into its company.

The NWO, a group of popular bad guys, made wrestling cool again.

"Things are going so hot," WWF star Mick "Mankind" Foley said. "Part of the reason it went on the downswing in the ’80s is because the product really stunk. It was all a lot of hype. Now the guys on top are making the grade as far as giving a quality effort."

After struggling mightily to compete with the WCW’s loaded roster of superstar wrestlers, the WWF had to innovate its product or go bankrupt. Owner Vince McMahon publicly admitted wrestling was scripted in 1982.

"One of the biggest things is we’ve dispelled the belief that we are just two wrestlers beating the hell out of each other," Brown said. "When you stop pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, they don’t go out and say, ‘These guys are just faking it.’"

WWF owner Vince McMahon and his script writers innovated a new "hard-core" style of wrestling. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the WWF’s "Raw is War" broadcast, just about anything goes.

Actually, it’s more about entertainment than wrestling these days.

"The thing that makes the pro-wrestling phenomenon interesting as a popular culture ritual is the fact that it’s able to successfully adapt to the interest of its audience," Hoppenstand said.

"For example, when we we’re at political odds with Iran, one of the great villains was the (Iron) Sheik. They seem to exploit the angry, emotional concerns of their audience, and they do it in a very effective fashion."

The new WWF hardcore style was criticized in a case study by Indiana University. The report showed numerous instances of sexual aggression (crotch chops, women portrayed as prostitutes), extreme violence (steel chairs, fireballs and guns) and other behavior considered unacceptable for children.

"Cable television is a pay service," Brown said. "It is not ABC or NBC that comes on for free. We have "Raw is War," which is more child-oriented, the lesser of two evils. We come on and say this time is for those who are at such an age.

"We are a microcosm of society, an art imitates life kind of thing," Brown said. "But children emulate us, so you have to take that responsibility to be a role model."

"Raw is War" is shown from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., the WWF turns up the vulgarity.

That hour of wrestling is what has drawn criticism from "20/20" and "Outside the Lines." The shows pointed out the negative effect wrestling can have on children.

"It’s rated TV-14," Foley said. "I certainly think anyone who’s 14 can handle it. If they’re younger than that, it’s up to their mom or dad to decide."

Wrestling’s new extreme edge isn’t great for children, but wrestling needs it to remain popular, Hoppenstand said.

"I wouldn’t encourage my 5-year-old to watch it," he said. "There are some cartoonish elements in it. (The fans) need to see those rituals played out. It’s a necessary ritual, that’s reflective of society. They are just mirroring it … because the audience is responding to it. The base common denominator that wrestling appeals to appreciates those elements."

Every Monday, almost 10 million fans watch "Monday night wars," a weekly battle for TV ratings supremacy between the WWF and WCW.

"Monday night is what we call ‘high-profile’ night," Brown said. "It’s very important to us. That’s when you can’t hold anything back."

The WWF and WCW are bitter enemies. But the competition between the two pushed wrestling’s popularity to new heights.

"Competition with (WCW) has forced us to become better," Foley said. "The coverage in the mainstream media has been helpful, even if most of it has been negative. It gets people to tune in and decide for themselves.

"You’re looking at a big form of entertainment for the next five years or so."

Right now the WWF is on top, winning the TV ratings battle the past 22 weeks. WCW won the ratings war for 83 weeks straight.

Foley said backstage politics are hurting WCW.

"The problem with WCW is they have a lot of political in-fighting, which is the reason I left," Foley said. "Merit didn’t count for much. That’s all I had to offer them. In the WWF it counts a lot, because Mr. McMahon is playing with his own money. The WCW guys are playing with other people’s money."

The stigma that "it’s fake" always will be attached to pro wrestling.

The WWF openly admits wrestling is choreographed and calls its product "sports entertainment."

"Anybody who looks at it and watches it regularly, knows the guys are putting their bodies on the line," Foley said. "If not, you’re foolish."

Foley is known for sacrificing his body in the ring. At the "King of the Ring" pay-per-view in summer 1998, he was hospitalized for numerous injuries after taking a 20-foot free fall from the top of a steel cage onto concrete floor.

"People don’t understand the schedule and how difficult it is, and how often guys are wrestling with injuries," said Foley, who has a missing left ear and scar-ridden torso to prove it.

WCW and WWF wrestlers are on the road 250 to 300 days a year. About 4 million people a year attend the live shows.

"Usually when I’m in a hospital, I’m out that same night," Foley said.

Realizing his days as a wrestler are numbered, Foley said he wants to give back to the fans as much as possible. He visited children April 5 at Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital.

"Being on the No. 1-rated show on cable, more people actually see Mankind or Mick Foley, than see Tommy and Chucky on the ‘Rugrats,’" Foley said. "I’ve learned from experience, it’s so easy to come into a hospital when kids aren’t feeling well and make a big difference — at least for a little while in their lives.

"I’ve been wrestling for 15 years, and I don’t think I’ve given back quite enough. It’s dawning on me that my days as a wrestler may be coming to a close. I’m trying to make up for lost time.

The WAWLI Papers # 793...


(The State News, September 22, 1999)

By Jeff Karzen

WAYNE, Mich. — DeSean Whipple’s Armstrong Hall dorm walls are barren except for a large wrestling belt, a framed picture of The Rock, his favorite wrestler, and a Dr. Seuss hat with a Goldberg logo scripted on it.

Whipple, a 19-year-old marketing sophomore from Detroit, has had a passion for professional wrestling that has bordered on ridiculous since he was a youngster.

Now he’s taking his passion to another level. For four months, he has practiced twice a week at the Destroyers School of Wrestling in Wayne, Mich., outside Detroit. The building resembles an old, abandoned warehouse or used-car garage, but inside, a large wresting ring, free weights and punching bags occupy much of the old building.

"When I first told my mother about the wrestling school, she thought I was crazy, probably still does," Whipple said with a laugh. "But she also realizes that you don’t want to regret anything in life, so if you really want something, you need to go after it."

At 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, Whipple, who has watched wrestling since he was 4, can throw people around the ring with ease.

Whipple was an defensive lineman at Detroit Cass Technical High School, but wrestling is what gets him excited.

"High school football was fun and all, but it was 11-on-11 and you didn’t get that individual aspect," he said. "It was more about winning and losing rather than entertaining. I’m all about entertaining."

The "Whipdog," Whipple’s preferred alias, has always been interested in pleasing a crowd. When he was in high school, he started a free pro-wrestling hot line for other fans interested in wrestling information. Last year, Whipple’s first in East Lansing, he joined the MSU club Wrestler Insiders. After one semester, he became president of the club, a title he still holds.

"It’s just a little fan club, but we want to get involved with more things this year," Whipple said. "I want to get a wrestling video game tournament, and then maybe a Toys for Tots event, where we would bring some wrestlers to East Lansing. The students would have to pay to get in, but they could watch the show and bring a toy that we would donate to charity."

Maybe it’s because of his physique, or maybe his seriousness about the issue, but nobody laughs at the Whipdog when they hear his ambitions.

"Last year he was always trying to do a new wrestling move on someone in the hall," said James Hopson, a supply chain management senior. "He lives and breathes pro wrestling."

Although many would argue making it in professional wrestling is a longshot, Whipple has the determination.

"Because of his size and his agility, DeSean has a chance to make some money doing this someday," said Doug Chevalier, owner of the Destroyers School of Wrestling. "He still has a lot to learn, but he is very committed and he never misses training sessions."

Generally, the kind of training DeSean is in now is the first step toward becoming a professional. After training, most ambitious wrestlers then work on the independent circuit in places that bring anywhere from 200 to 2,000 fans. From there, interested promoters sign on wrestlers to be part of the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling or Extreme Championship Wrestling, which is where the most money and fame can be had.

"One of the big things that you need to get into a federation is a connection with somebody already in, or on their way into, a federation," Whipple said. "By the time I graduate I hope to be in the WWF. I know some guys who used to wrestle locally in Michigan and we have talked backstage before."

Whipple’s friends also are looking forward to following his future in the sport.

"It would be interesting to see him on TV, and I’m waiting for him to pull out his signature move ‘The Whiplash,’" general business freshman Jason Charlton said.

When asked about why he favors WWF-style wrestling to authentic wrestling, Whipple stresses the entertainment factor.

"Nothing against the wrestling team at Michigan State, but I like the sports entertainment better," he said.

"When people think of wrestling, they think of two guys in a ring, but that’s not the biggest thing. Another part of wrestling is cutting a promo. You need to be able to speak and get your point across to the fans."

Whipple says that of the 30 to 40 pro-wrestling events he has attended, his favorite was Wrestlemania III in 1987 at the Pontiac Silverdome. It was the first wrestling event he ever attended.

"I was 7 years old then and it was in front of 93,000 people," he said. "The cheer that Hulk Hogan got was unbelievable. Ever since then, I’ve thought I have to be in the ring electrifying all the fans."

One thing Whipple has in his favor is confidence. He already has the lingo down as if he’s been in the spotlight for years and speaks with the rare combination of arrogance and ease only heard in pro wrestling.

"The priorities of the Whip are God, family and wrestling, and everything else is trivial," Whipple said.


(Missoula Independent, May 11, 2000)

By Ed Symkus

When the ring announcer calls out the introduction of Terry Funk, the tall, broad-shouldered wrestler with the weathered face and unruly mop of hair makes his way to the ring via either slow lumber or short-stepped run. His choice of entrances usually depends on how bad he’s hurting on that particular day.

"It’s not how old you are, it’s how old you feel," says Funk, then adds with a chuckle. "And I feel about 80 now."

Funk, who’s actually 54 and is featured in the new wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat, has been in the game for just over three decades, following in the footsteps of his older brother Dory, Jr. and their father Dory. Noted for his chaotic brawling style and microphone expertise more than for his technical skill, Funk has taken his share of bumps, both here in the States and in Japan.

"I truly believe that we’re blessed with certain things genetically," he says. "I’ve seen a lot of guys fall by the wayside because they break easier. But the Lord gave me a good strong structure. I’ve got these big bones and a thick skull."

But in the same breath he goes on to list his injuries.

"I lost my right pec and a tricep to an injury in a match with Lanny Poffo; I broke my neck prior to that when I got hit in the head with a chair by Harley Race; I broke my back; I had a busted sacrum in ’85 and never missed a day; I’ve had both knees operated on."

Looking at Funk, one of three veteran wrestlers followed in Beyond the Mat—there’s also Jake Roberts and Mick Foley—struggling to get out of bed in the film, there’s no doubt that he’s in constant pain. But watching him go about his work and interact with his often-concerned family shows that he’s also a very happy man.

"The film is as honest as you can be about me and my family," he says. "I’m in love with life, I don’t ever want it to end. I love every day with my wife and kids and I cherish those moments. Thank God for giving me more than my share of entertainment time in the ring.

"And," he adds, "it’s really fun."

Funk, whose father started wrestling in Chicago and ended up running the Amarillo territory in Texas, says he knew he wanted to be a part of the scene when he was 4 or 5 years old.

"I remember sometimes bawling my eyes out watching my poppa, and sometimes cheering him on and loving every minute of it," he says. "I’m sure other kids that age wanted to be a fireman or a cowboy. Heck with that. I wanted to be a wrestler. But my father made sure that I got a college education first. He would not let me or my brother turn pro till after we got out of college."

His father, who died from a heart attack after wrestling an impromptu match at a party in his home in 1972, is still much admired and loved by Funk. He’s the man who taught him to wrestle and to love the game.

"My father was such a great man and a great teacher of wrestlers," he says. "But out of all the time my brother and I wrestled he never told us that we had a good match. He would criticize the stuff that we did wrong in the ring. But whenever he didn’t say anything at all, we knew that we’d done very well."

Funk readily admits that there’s too much wrestling on television these days but also says that he doesn’t watch any of it.

"I’ll tell you why," he says. "If I was a plumber, would I want to watch somebody fix a crapper if they could fix it better than me or if they couldn’t fix it as good as me? Either way I don’t want to watch."

And, though he actually announced the first of many "retirements" almost 20 years ago, Funk still doesn’t appear to be ready to hang up the boots. Besides his regular TV bouts on WCW’s "Monday Nitro" and at pay-per-views, he’s planning to go up against longtime Japanese foe Atsushi Onita in June for an exploding barbed wire match, which is exactly what it sounds like.

"I love the business and I love wrestling, but I also like to make as much money as I can in as short a period as I can," he says in explaining why he would do such a match. "I’m at a period in my life where I don’t want to spend six weeks in Japan. So I can go to these promotions and make as much in one night as I can in a whole tour over there. Kawasaki stadium holds 45-50,000 people at $200-$300 ringside. You can get a lot more money in a shorter period of time and be away from home a lot less."

With the popularity of wrestling currently skyrocketing and autobiographies by both Mick Foley and Dwayne Johnson riding high on best seller lists, is Funk ready to put anything down on paper?

"No book in the planning right now," he says. "I’ve got some good stories to tell, but some of them better stay where they are."


(The State News, July 20, 2000)

By Jeff Karzen

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- At World Championship Wrestling’s first appearance at the Breslin Student Events Center, the crowd of about 5,000 went wild when their favorite wrestlers strolled across the ramp leading to the wrestling mat.

The raucous fans got louder each time a new wrestler appeared, and, despite WCW’s declining audience, the Breslin crowd was pumped for action.

"I love the WCW," criminal justice senior Katie Kovach said. "It’s like a soap opera with testosterone and it’s very entertaining."

MSU sophomore football player T.J. Duckett was also in the crowd, and he shared in Kovach’s sentiments.

"I just like the excitement of coming out and watching wrestling," the Kalamazoo native said. "It’s like a big soap opera and it’s all in good fun."

One of the crowd favorites was Billy Kidman, who wrestled in one of the first matches against Elix Skipper. As Kidman tossed Skipper around the ring, he was greeted with chants of, "Kidman, Kidman, Kidman."

Bobby Haddix, a 22-year-old Webberville resident, said he has always liked WCW better than its rival, the more popular World Wrestling Federation.

"Jeff Jarrett is my favorite wrestler and I love the way he calls people out," Haddix said of the WCW competitor. "This is my fourth WCW event, and they have all been great."

The crowd was comprised of mostly teenagers and 40-and over citizens. Because the event fell during summer vacation, not many MSU students were in attendance.

Several athletes could be spotted in the blocked off Breslin Center, though, such as basketball’s Mike Chappell, David Thomas and Steve Cherry, and football’s Duckett, Josh Shaw and incoming freshman Charles Rogers.

"It’s a different experience to go see pro wrestling, so it’s cool to come out here," Cherry said.

Many signs donned the arena, some celebrating the fans’ favorite wrestlers, while others mocked WCW. One sign even read, "Cut The Mullet," referring to some wrestlers’ short-in-front, long-in-back haircuts.

Cherry, who was there with Duckett and Rogers, said he wanted to take advantage of wrestling’s rare appearance in East Lansing.

Fifteen-year-old Lansing resident Justin Force was siting in the fourth row, anxiously awaiting his second cousin Kevin Nash to grace the stage.

"I’ve seen my cousin like eight times," Force said. "I think the WCW is on the rise because more people are coming to the shows. I like it a little better than the WWF.

The WAWLI Papers # 794...


(, August 14, 2000)

By Richard Berger

Allow me to preface this report with a little bit of background. In the 1960s, I saw Fred Blassie and Bearcat Wright go to a time-limit draw for the World Wrestling Association heavyweight title in a grueling endurance test. I took in the violent feud between Buddy "Killer" Austin and "Cowboy" Bob Ellis that ended only when both men had passed out from sheer exhaustion and loss of blood. I was witness to superior technical wrestling from Lou Thesz and Rikidozan.

So, when the assignment to cover WCW’s New Blood Rising fell into my lap, I experienced very mixed feelings. I’ve made it clear in my writings that while I have the utmost respect for the wrestlers themselves, the Atlanta-based promotion’s current direction has been a real turn-off for me. It saddens this old-timer to see so many talented performers taking a back seat to brainless skits and illogical sequences that go nowhere, ultimately insulting the intelligence of the viewer.

Still, I am a professional writer. As it pertains to the event, I headed to the arena with the intention of being as fair as humanly possible. I resolved to put aside my preconceptions of what might occur and committed myself to being impartial. I really and truly did.

There was a sense of excitement among the fans as the Pacific Coliseum began to fill up. Considering that this was WCW’s first foray into Vancouver, and the show was on pay-per-view to boot, the crowd was anticipating something special.

The excitement level grew as the pre-show hoopla and hype noisily demanded our attention. A Double Ladders encounter between The Jung Dragons and 3 Count began the proceedings. A fellow in a yellow shirt sitting nearby exclaimed that "This is gonna be really good and bloody!" I marveled at his enthusiasm...

What took place in the ring was a spot fest. Which wasn’t a bad thing at all. This kind of gimmick match works best when anything approaching an athletic competition is put aside in favor of thrills and spills. Some very nice maneuvers and spots with the ladders that had to hurt. I applaud those who agree to perform under these circumstances. Such encounters exact a heavy physical toll. By and large, the execution was excellent, which was a good thing because sloppy work would have resulted in serious injuries.

I was encouraged by the start. The crowd seemed to like it and the Fellow in Yellow was happy enough, although he was disappointed by the lack of blood.

I’ve read somewhere that Keiji Muta’s knees were in rough shape. That would at least explain what was a very sad display. Some attempts were made by Muta and Ernest "Cat" Miller, but most of it was poorly executed. The fans went south on this match, and it was immediately forgettable.

Once that match was over, the signs began bobbing up and down. Each proclaimed things like "Buff is the Stuff," "Positively Kanyon" and other such clever thoughts. This was followed by some silliness about Buff Bagwell’s mom, doing her best Perils of Pauline imitation on top of a platform held aloft by a forklift. The match itself wasn’t much, and the angle with Judy Bagwell is all that mattered to the fans. I’m not sure why...

The atmosphere in the arena had been slowly drifting from nervous, occasionally raucous excitement to a polite, reserved theatre-like crowd. The Fellow in Yellow, who had been so pumped at the start of the evening, sat back in his seat and watched with muted enthusiasm. WCW really needed something special to occur in order to keep from losing whatever heat had been built.

What took place next was probably the right thing for that moment. I can’t recall all the names involved in the match, and I’m not going to bother retrieving them. Blake or someone will have a detailed match-by-match report here at IGN, if it isn’t up already.

All I recall is a whole bunch of guys running around and looking lost most of the time. A few nice spots, a lot more messed up ones and nothing made any sense. It was fun, though. I can’t point at anything outstanding that took place, but there was just so much whacked-out, crazed energy in that ring that it took on a life of its own. The whole exercise came across in the same manner as pinballs in a machine, bouncing crazily from pillar to post. I kinda liked it, although I’m again lost to explain why. The crowd also seemed to pick up during this bout.

Shane Douglas took on Billy Kidman in the next match. There was a strap stipulation, and the sight of Torrie pretty much says it all. Nothing of any real consequence occurred. The crowd popped here and there, mostly when Torrie got involved. It was okay.

The fans perked up when it became clear the time had arrived for the Women’s Clothes Ripping Match. (It seems as if most every PPV nowadays has one of these for no reason except to titillate the young male libido). Well, this was one more. The attempts at wrestling by both Miss Hancock and Major Gunns were execrable, and I found myself wishing they would go straight to the finish. Which occurred in a tub full of mud, as promised. Then, on to Bad Taste Land with what appeared to be an angle involving a miscarriage. Jeez. What’s the point? Oh, yeah. This is Sports Entertainment. I keep confusing it with wrestling.

Those sitting around me seemed uncomfortable and even disgusted with the final act of the melodrama. Even my Yellow Buddy, who had been happily whooping it up during the clothes-ripping section of the match was now booing.

This changed with the appearance of The Demon. Not so much for his arrival, but because it signaled the return of Sting. It had been two months since his last appearance in WCW, and as one of the wrestlers who has been there the longest, he enjoys a large and devoted following. The reception for him resulted in one of the biggest pops of the night. (Let me state right here that I was under the impression that both WCW and WWF had decided to abolish the drop-out-of-the-sky-on-a-rope entrance after the Owen Hart tragedy. Was it such a good idea that it demanded a revival? What purpose did it serve? Why tempt fate? I just don’t get it).

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd go from joy at seeing a favorite arrive on the scene to one of despair and anger. The match lasted what ... 30 seconds? Sting looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of there, and as soon as he was able, bolted for the back. Thanks for dropping by, Steve. There was a lot of muttering and general disgust at this point. All of the positive energy had been drained from the throng. How can WCW justify taking people’s money and delivering so little? This includes those at home watching on PPV as well as the people at the Pacific Coliseum.

Still, the surprisingly resilient and ever-hopeful crowd got excited at this stage, because Lance Storm was on his way! Conditioned to love him because of his nationality instead of his wrestling skills (of which he has in abundance), Storm was able to work as a babyface for the Canadian audience’s approval while still getting serious heel heat in U.S. homes. Jacques Rougeau was given the big build-up as the special referee by Lance, only to receive total indifference upon arrival. Yellow Fellow had to explain to a kid sitting near him who Rougeau was. It seemed that the fans were expecting Bret Hart, and not an "unimportant" Canadian such as Rougeau.

Anyway, the match got underway with Mike Awesome showing his capabilities early and often. For such a large man, he is truly agile. Good back-and-forth action for a short while, then it was time for the first false finish. Even though the ref in the ring counted to three on Storm’s pinned shoulders, Rougeau informed him that the rules in Canada demand a five-count. Hmmm ... I’ve been living in this country for 27 of my 50 years and this was the first time I heard that one. The crowd around me was unsure how to respond. They liked Storm and wanted him to win, but did he really need help from Jacques Rougeau?

The answer seemed to be a solid yes, because they repeated this finish several more times. Pay attention, folks. This is precisely how you don’t book a match unless you intend to bury someone. All of the title belts and pushes don’t add up to a damn thing if the wrestler is going to be destroyed in one night. How are the fans supposed to regard Lance Storm as a serious contender (let alone champion) if he gets the rules changed in his favor every time he’s pinned? The word in the dictionary is credibility and in WCW, it has no relevance.

The finish didn’t matter regardless of who walked away with the strap. Later, when Bret Hart finally made his perfunctory appearance, the pop was less than it should have been. Loud at first, it abated rapidly as he showed his approval of the unfair tactics, all of which took place in the name of Canadianism. Isn’t this the same guy who, after the infamous Montreal screw-job of ’97, swore he’d stand up for what was fair and honorable, for that was who he truly was?

This was the turning point for the crowd. The mood, which had been slowly drifting from great enthusiasm to moderate interest to disappointment now became surly. Many voices could be heard reverberating off the walls. "Scam," "Rip-off" and "B.S." were but a few. With it being World Championship Wrestling’s first show in Vancouver, this was virgin territory. Alas, instead of being cultivated, it was being killed in one night. With this latest example of infuriating booking, the Lance Storm/Mike Awesome bout finished off any chance of a positive response for the rest of the evening. Even the Fellow in Yellow was now staring sullenly at the ring with no emotion evident. It was a sad sight. I doubt the poor guy could have looked any more forlorn if he had been informed his puppy had been run over by a bus.

A tag match for the title broke out of nowhere. Not only did it feature four guys we’d seen earlier (Vampiro & Muta vs. Kronic), but there was no build-up to what should have been a big deal. It was a title match, after all. The crowd was dead throughout, and who could blame them? What a load...

We had sunk about as low as possible, right? Nope, not yet. We were now being given a 3-Way-Dance that appeared to only have two contestants. Makes good sense. With all the pre-show hype about a shoot to take place (yeah, right), how rude it was of Goldberg not to be prepared to stick out his tongue when his music sounded. More people were unhappy now. Again, the chant of "Rip off!" and "This is crap!" picked up all around.

So, Nash and Steiner locked up and bored the fans for a few minutes until the former footballer appeared. Then, the so-called shoot took place. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m sure the three were following orders in trying to make it all look legitimate, but it really wasn’t close. You don’t do all the usual spots (such as running the ropes and getting into position) if you're seriously trying to take someone out. What utter shash!

The crowd’s mood, which had been turning ugly, was now dispassionate again. No one seemed to care who won. Not the once-beloved Goldberg. Scott Steiner, who physically appears to be one gigantic muscle, didn’t have their backing. Kevin Nash, with some die-hard loyalists supporting him, could barely be bothered going through the motions. If there was money to be made in creating despair among their patrons, WCW would be the wealthiest wrestling company in the world.

The main event was pretty good. Not that it meant anything anymore. Both Jeff Jarrett and Booker T are very good wrestlers. The gimmicked guitar came into play, of course. So did numerous ref bumps and the like. Just another match in WCW, ho-hum. Good work amidst the distractions and stupidity, but it all amounted to a large yawn from the fans, many of whom were now looking at their watches.

At the conclusion, the ring area was littered with thrown cups and paraphernalia. TV announcers Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mark Madden made a bee-line for the backstage area. As fans were filtering out, the ring crew and arena staff began breaking down the equipment. One got the sensation of what it’s like when a small-time carnival shuts down and heads off as quickly as it can to the next town. It had the feel of a hit and run (hit town, grab the money and run).

I listened to the fans talking as they departed. Yellow Fellow was walking out in silence, having deposited his program in a garbage can. No one was saying anything about what they’d just witnessed. It was as if everyone had put in their time and now they were on to their next endeavor. There was no sense of joy, of excitement and anticipation of when WCW might be back. It was all so forgettable and so very disposable. Again, I was reminded of how the fans would respond back in the days when Blassie fought Wright and Ellis took on Austin. As the people filtered out, all of the talk was centered around what they had just seen and what would take place the next time around. Tickets were already being sought. Folks were satisfied with the show, and were starting to imagine and discuss what was to come. They’d received their money’s worth.

I’m sorry, WCW. I gave it my best shot and this was the result. I sincerely tried to be fair with you in every way, but you refused to meet me halfway. As long as the man pulling the strings insists upon selling moronic gimmicks (Judy Bagwell on a Pole, Ladders and Tables and Weaponry), ref bumps galore and unending run-ins, he will have earned my disdain. From the mutterings of the paying fans as they departed, I’m far from alone in my depiction of your product. The entire card suffered from being booked to death by someone who has no love or interest in wrestling. It’s a crying shame, but make no mistake ... WCW is its own worst enemy.


(Philadelphia Daily News, August 22, 2000)

By Michael Tearson

Terry Bollea -- aka Hulk Hogan -- filed a lawsuit against WCW for defamation of character and breach of contract stemming from Vince Russo's profanity-laced tirade against the Hulkster at the July 9 Daytona Beach, Fla., pay-per-view.

At that time, Russo ordered Jeff Jarrett to lie down for Hogan to pin him instead of having their scheduled WCW championship match. Hogan left with the belt, but not the title. Russo stripped him of that and set up the Jarrett/Booker T title match for later that night. In that match, Booker T won the title.

Hogan's lawyer, John Taylor, who previously did work on behalf of the WWF in Georgia legal matters, said Russo's inflammatory remarks weren't "part of the script."

Taylor added: "This is a real lawsuit. What Russo said was defamatory and a breach of contract." He added that Hogan was most upset that his children were in the audience.

Russo accused Hogan of holding back WCW's progress and deterring young talent from rising.

One angle to watch is the fine line between insults that are part of the planned script and unscripted remarks that might be defamatory. After all, "shoot" comments have become an integral part of what pro wrestling does to advance its storylines.

PASSINGS: Tony Parisi, who also wrestled as Tony Pugliese, died of a heart attack Aug. 19. He once held the former WWWF's Tag Team championship with Gino Brito.

The WAWLI Papers # 795...


(Roanoke Times, Sunday, August 20, 2000)

By Matt Chittum

Tony Atlas came home last week, and he was forgiven.

He left Roanoke 25 years ago as Tony White, headed for the big leagues of professional wrestling. He reached the pinnacle of his profession and made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, only to squander it all and bottom out broke, homeless, suicidal and addicted to crack.

He lives in Maine now, and hadn't been to Roanoke in 13 years because he was just too embarrassed to face all the people who expected so much of him. But Friday, he came home to wrestle in a match, tour his old haunts and meet people he hadn't seen in years.

"They forgive me," Atlas said. "I feel like the prodigal son."

"You got people here that love you. Don't you ever be ashamed to come home," Bill Cunningham Sr. told Atlas in the parking lot of Chuck's Seafood on Patterson Avenue, where Atlas held a street-corner autograph session Friday afternoon. As a teen-ager, Atlas spent more time at Cunningham's house with classmate Bill Cunningham Jr. and his brother Richard than he did at his own home.

A crowd of old neighborhood friends and children followed Atlas wherever he went Friday. He gave away 200 autographed pictures he usually sells for $3 apiece, and waxed nostalgic all through the day.

He used to catch the bus to Patrick Henry High School at the intersection where he signed autographs Friday. After working out at the YMCA on Church Avenue, he would stop at the convenience store at that same corner and buy a quart of chocolate milk every day.

Years later, when he was in the prime of his career, he handed out money to friends on that corner and bought ice cream for a whole busload of kids there.

Today, at 46, Atlas still makes most of his money from wrestling, but at small independent shows in the Northeast. He has no medical insurance, a few thousand dollars in the bank when he's doing well, and lives alone in a three-room apartment.

His return to Roanoke came on the heels of a July 16 story in that told of his turbulent fortunes.

The National Guard Armory was packed with about 500 fans Friday night, many of whom came just to see Atlas and his tag-team partner, Roanoke wrestler Rolling Thunder, whose real name is Mike Staples.

In the crowd were two of Atlas' brothers, Charles and Walter White.

Before the match, the three compared biceps. Atlas taunted his big brother Charles into an arm-wrestling match that ended abruptly when Atlas kissed his brother on the cheek .

It was the first time the three had been in the same room in 20 years.

"I don't know why I don't come back down here," Atlas said. "It's nothing in Maine for me."

When Atlas and Rolling Thunder entered the auditorium for their match, the crowd leapt to its feet with a roar. Atlas circled the room, slapping every hand he could reach.

"He's still holding up. He's still keeping that manly physique and all," said R.E. Patterson, who, like many, was proud to say he knew Atlas way back when.

"It's like a dream come true," said Ben Martin, whose grandfather used to take him to see Atlas wrestle in the 1970s. He presented Atlas a pristine copy of a 1981 edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine. It featured a cover picture of Atlas getting the better of Hulk Hogan and the headline, "The war between wrestling's supermen."

During the match, whenever Atlas' turn came to enter the ring, the crowd found its feet again and filled the hall with noise. When an opponent had Atlas on the brink of submission, his fans boomed his name in rhythm -- "Tony! Tony! Tony!" -- and Atlas' strength was resurrected.

The match ended on a disqualification when Eclipso, who is really American Championship Wrestling promoter Mike Weddle, brought a chair into the ring. Rolling Thunder stripped the chair from him and used it to clear the ring.

Atlas and Rolling Thunder, the "Roanoke Connection," were the victors.

"I feel like a million dollars," Atlas said after the match.

He was shocked by his own reception. After all he'd done to let down everyone who had helped him find fame and fortune, he expected less.

"That's what I can't understand," he said. "I'm still a hero."



By Paul Herzog

Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming....

I get a call one Friday afternoon that there's a new wrestling promotion, having its first card in Grand Prairie, Texas. A shoot group. Hmmmm....

I check it out. Yup, it's shoot. Not UFC. Not Pancrase. But shoot wrestling, holds and counters, based on 3-minute rounds. The participants, with the exception of "qualifying tournament" winner Ken Johnson, a veteran of South Texas wrestling, are forgettable. Some of the boys have some amateur background, dulled from years of neglect. A couple of the guys were just tough S.O.B.s, big strong Texans. And the women's match on the card was straight out of the Leilani Kai School of Wrestling, without using the ropes. What counts here is that someone is trying something new. Someone named Johnny Valentine, a man fitting the definition of the word "legend". I get to talk briefly with Valentine and Killer Karl Kox before the matches, and then partake of a few beers with some of the boys and Mr. Valentine afterward. I wish I had a tape recorder to have gotten exact quotes, but the direction and content of the conversation will be something that will live with me for a long time. Valentine struggled into a chair, supporting his weight on crutches, remnants of the plane crash twenty years ago that almost took his life, and started up. I didn't want it to stop.

Johnny is bothered by the current direction the business has taken. Hell, the direction for the better part of the last fifteen years. After high school or college, where do the great amateurs get to go to practice their trade, to hopefully make a living at it? The answer isn't the WWF, or WCW, or any other wrestling group in the United States. High school & college wrestling competitions draw good-sized crowds in many areas of the country. Oklahoma is a wrestling hotbed, along with Florida, the Pacific Northwest, and most of the Great Lakes. Why not try the same thing, at a professional level?

Valentine will be bringing in some bigger names in the future for his experiment, including his son Greg. These will not necessarily be pure "shoots", but the emphasis will be put on wrestling, on an athletic competition rather than ring lighting, gimmicks and high spots. "During the last couple of years of my career," Valentine said, "I never did any spots. I didn't have to. I made my living wrestling, and there was money to be made in it." Personally, I believe that Valentine is fighting an uphill battle. Up Mount fucking Everest, to be brutally honest. But that the battle is fought at all is a heartening idea, especially when it's being fought by Johnny Valentine.

When sitting with one of the greats, the conversation always turns to the other greats. Valentine rated Karl Gotch as the toughest, and most dangerous man, he ever stepped into the ring with. "After leaving home, Gotch spent a year in England, in one of those 'pits', where they learn how to hurt people, how to kill people." Valentine sounded like a man speaking from painful experience.

We pressed to Johnny to name his favorite opponent, he paused for a minute. After all, there's over twenty years in the ring to consider, and the name he came up with was a surprise to me, but probably to no one who saw him in the ring: Jose Lothario. Valentine relayed the story of a boxing match put together between himself and Jose Lothario, in Miami. The athletic commission had a man who hated wrestling, and gave the excuse that he was worried that a huge crowd would come out to see a match, and end up with something that was completely rigged and demand their money back. Valentine and Lothario were forced to box instead, "and Jose and I beat on each other for 10 rounds. After the match, the promoter came up and said that was the best boxing he had ever seen."

Danny Hodge? According to Johnny, Danny was the greatest wrestler he ever met. Hodge has been one of the few who has been able to keep his dignity and reputation as a great amateur in the professional ranks, and is, to this day, remembered as the very best. Lou Thesz is another who maintained this status. "But the thing to know about Lou is that he never really had any formal training. He just hung around in those old gyms and learned what to do. It helped him that he had the perfect wrestler's physique." I asked if that included Thesz's legendary "cauliflower ears". "Even before wrestling, they weren't too good," Valentine smiled.

Surprisingly to me, another man that Valentine rated as tough was Ricky Starr. Starr may have worn feminine tights and ballet slippers to the ring, but he was a serious customer and a tremendous wrestler. "He had to be to get away with that gimmick at that time."

At dinner after the card, I sat at a corner table with Ken Johnson, Bobby Perez, another veteran of the South Texas circuit, and ring announcer Mark Nulty. Fueled by huge pizzas and more beer, they regaled me with tales of the road, wrestling groupies, and practical jokes played with relentless abandon. Johnny Valentine sat at another table, quietly eating his dinner and chatting with his wife and friends. Looking back on it all, what kind of dinner might I have had with him thirty years ago? When you could hear the same stories from a great wrestler, with the fire and memories of yesteryear. A man who still believes in the sport of wrestling. A man.

I hope to meet him again, and probably will next week, back at a run-down ballroom in a Dallas suburb. I hope to hear more about the greats that I only read about from Matt Brock's columns. I want to learn what I can from Johnny Valentine, and share it with others who love the sport.



By Steve Slagle

Wrestling's "Golden Age" in the late-1940's through the late-1950's produced a number of legendary grapplers, and these men, by appearing on the newly-created medium of television, became household names during that era. Johnny Valentine was one of those "Golden Age" greats, one of the most hated villains (and one of its most prolific champions) in the history of wrestling. As a performer, few could match Valentine's ability to "get his story across" to the fans, and at 6`4 and 250 lbs., with bleached blond hair, the large Valentine perpetuated a look and persona that is still part of wrestling to this day. As a testament to his staying power, Valentine was a top performer in the 1950's, 1960's and through the 1970's -- proving that he could adapt his style to fit any time period. During his prime, there was not a more famous wrestler in the country, and Valentine (unknowingly) became a role model for many wrestlers to come...

With his long blond hair, tanned, athletic build, and cocky mannerisms, Valentine was one of the most hated men of the era. His talent inside the ring frustrated many fans of the day, as the arrogant Valentine was as good as he bragged about being -- and he never let anyone forget it. His list of championship accomplishments speaks for itself. Among other titles, Valentine won one of his first championships (the NWA U.S. Tag Team title, which later evolved into the WWF World Tag Team championship) on November 14, 1959 with partner Dr. Jerry Graham. He scored three U.S. Tag titles wins with partners Buddy Rogers (1960) and "Cowboy" Bob Ellis (1962) and Tony Parisi (1966). Valentine also held three separate versions of the United States Heavyweight championship -- the Toronto version (1963, 1968), the Detroit version (1964, twice in 1973) and the Mid Atlantic version -- the same US title currently defended in WCW -- in 1975.

The talented Valentine also wore the prestigious Florida Heavyweight title three times between 1967-68, the Southern Tag Team title (w/Boris Malenko) in 1968, the Southern Heavyweight championship in 1973, the NWF North American title in 1972, the United National Heavyweight title in 1973, and the NWA Eastern States Heavyweight title (which was renamed the Mid Atlantic Heavyweight title) twice in 1974 and 1975. Valentine also wore several versions of the World title, including the IWA World title (1963), AWA/IWA World Heavyweight title (1972), and the NWF World Heavyweight championship (twice, in 1972 and 1973). Johnny had bloody, intense, long-running feuds with some of the greatest stars of any era; Bobo Brazil, Pat O'Conner, Antonio Rocca, Lou Thesz, Harley Race, The Sheik, Wahoo McDaniel, Bruno Sammartino, Johnny Powers, The Brisco Brothers, Paul Jones, Jacques Rougeau, Sr., Red Bastein, the Funks, and many, many others. He also produced an "heir" in the form of his very talented and successful son, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (pictured). But on a Fall day in 1975, the life of this championship wrestler -- and the world of wrestling -- changed, forever...

On October 4, 1975, Valentine (along with a young Ric Flair, Mid Atlantic TV producer David Crockett, and others) were in a private plane, en route to another performance. However, while in flight, the plane literally ran out of fuel thousands of feet in the air. The result was a forgone conclusion, as it was only a matter of time before the small plane crashed to the ground below. According to one of the survivors, Ric Flair, the pilot did his best to land the aircraft, trying to save the lives of his passengers. He did so, but in the process, lost his own. Meanwhile, Flair suffered a broken back, Crockett was seriously injured too, and Johnny Valentine was partially paralyzed. It was a tragedy that, while it could have been worse, was a bitter pill to swallow for the proud Valentine. But the fates had left him with no options -- his career as a main-event professional wrestler was over.

After the accident, Valentine had plenty of time to process what had happened to him. He was determined not to let it ruin his life, and after many years of therapy, he has regained some of the physical gifts the plane crash had taken from him. It's not surprising, considering the kind of determination, will, and dedication he displayed during his 20 years as a pro wrestler. We at The Ring Chronicle are proud to induct this legendary champion and Golden Age legend -- the great Johnny Valentine -- into the TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame...


(Mobile Register, August 21, 2000)

By Chuck Miller

As we stand at the dawn of a new millennium, professional wrestling is bigger than it has ever been.

Is this good or bad? Does professional wrestling to anything to advance us as a species, or is it atavistic entertainment that appeals to parts of our psyche we would be better off leaving in the boneyard of our prehistoric past?

Who knows? Who cares? Love it or hate it, professional wrestling is a fact of life. And evidently enough of us love it to have made it a multi-billion-dollar industry. The merchandising tie-ins alone are staggering. Toys, comic books, video games, lunch boxes, etc., fill the shelves of toyshops and retail stores across the nation. Pay-per-view wrestling events regularly pull in record-breaking numbers of viewers.

But even in the year 2000, with our Internet hook-ups and hundred-plus-channel cable outlets, nothing can take the place of a good old-fashioned road show.

That's what a sellout crowd at the Mitchell Center got Sunday night, when the World Wrestling Federation brought its way-out cast of characters to Mobile for a little good, clean violence.

Opening the show was Mobile native "Paul Bearer," former cohort of the Undertaker, who himself once wrestled under the name "Percy Pringle III." He takes to the ring after the affable, tuxedo-clad emcee warns everyone that everything that happens in this room tonight is the property of the WWF, and that anyone caught videotaping the proceedings will be dealt with.

The crowd loves Bearer/Pringle. Though he makes only a short speech, he gets quite an ovation. Local boy makes good.

A striking thing about the capacity crowd at the "Mitch" Sunday night was its diversity. Included were young people, old people, men, women, black people, white people, toddlers and grandmothers.

Wrestling seems not to suffer from the sort of narrow appeal experienced by other forms of entertainment. (It is very unlikely that you would see such a cross-section of humanity at an NSYNC concert.)

"That's the thing," said Todd Harrell, a 24-year-old fan from Pensacola. "Anyone can enjoy it. I may be kind of silly at times, but that's all part of it. It's just fun."

Paul Bearer promises that they will one day tape an episode of the hugely-popular "WWF Monday Night RAW" in Mobile, and the crowd lauds him. He leaves the ring to the sound of "Sweet Home Alabama," and it is time for the violence to begin.

The first two wrestlers elicit very little in the way of audience reaction. I find it fascinating, nonetheless, because it is the first time I have ever seen pro wrestling in person.

"It's like watching the Three Stooges or something," said a 20-something female fan who sat behind me. "It's just like when we went to see WCW (World Conference Wrestling-a rival to the WWF); you can't tell what's going on, because there's no commentator."

That's what was bothersome - it was too quiet. An announcer would have helped immensely. The spectacle of totally silent blows, visibly failing to reach their marks, doesn't do much to help your suspension of disbelief, no matter how willing you are. Sound and fury make choreographed violence seem more real.

As the evening progresses, and the wrestlers become increasingly well-known, this problem diminishes.

During the first contest, between a pair of relative unknowns, the audience is lethargic and quiet. You've heard the old Zen riddle about the sound of one hand clapping? Well, we repeatedly heard the sound of a fist missing a chin by several inches.

The real star the show was the Rock, probably the best-known wrestler on the circuit today. The Rock is a genuine celebrity. He does milk commercials. And Mobile loves him. Dozens of hand-painted signs were waved in the air throughout the proceedings. "WE LOVE YOU, ROCK!" "THE ROCK RULES!" "MARRY ME, ROCK."

The atmosphere all evening has been more like a rock concert than a sporting event, and the wrestlers themselves are like beefed-up rock stars. Especially the Rock. When he finally emerges from backstage in a rather halfhearted puff of dry-ice smoke, he receives a display of adulation that would have suited Mick Jagger in his prime.

The Rock tussles briefly with challenger Chris Benoit. There are a few narrow scrapes, but the Rock, of course, emerges triumphant. Benoit slinks away and the Rock takes the center of the ring. The house lights are extinguished and a single, dramatic spot illuminates him. He delivers a short speech (the man has a peculiar tendency to refer to himself in the third person, i.e. "The Rock did this," "The Rock did that.")

Is professional wrestling "fake?" And does it really matter?

Yes, it is, and no, it doesn't. We need to be careful how we define the word "fake." I seriously doubt that the wrestler known as the Undertaker really did die and then have himself resurrected by arcane means, as he claims. It's all part of the fun.

Is anyone being cheated by the fact that the bouts are more like carefully choreographed dance numbers than actual brutal beatings? Of course not. We know what's up, and we agree not to bring up the subject. The wrestling fan is part of the tacit conspiracy to shut up and pretend that we believe in what seems to be going on.

The point is everyone had a good time. Even me. Judging by the tumultuous applause at evening's end, none of the other fans present felt the least bit cheated.

And any show you can walk away from without feeling cheated is a good show.

The WAWLI Papers # 796...


(, March 1, 2000)

By Andy Mosely (

Well, if the stipulation is actually followed (for once!), Mick Foley has
wrestled for the last time. While guys like Hogan can't usually be trusted
when they are in retirement matches (hasn't he had something like eight of
them?), I have full reason to believe Mick Foley when he says he will
retire. The guy knows when to go out before he hurts himself any more than
he has. He's said he wants more family time. Besides, he's gotta be
getting close to having one too many chairshots to the head. Thanks for a
great career Mick, and I have a feeling you'll still be around in some
capacity.... maybe commissioner?

Now watch him win the WWF Title in the main event of WrestleMania 2000.
Anyway, here's a look back at Mick Foley's career through PPV results,
titles, and awards.


December 13, 1988 - AWA Superclash III
Chicago, Illinois - UIC Pavilion
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with The Rock 'n Roll RPMs vs Chavo, Hector, and Mando Guerrero
Results: lost when Chavo pinned Tommy Lane

February 6, 1990 - NWA Clash of the Champions X
Corpus Christi, Texas
Identity: Cactus Jack Manson
Match: vs Mil Mascaras
Results: lost

February 25, 1990 - NWA Wrestle War
Greensboro, North Carolina - Greensboro Coliseum
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Norman the Lunatic
Results: lost by pinfall

May 19, 1990 - NWA Capital Combat
Washington, D.C. - The Armory
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Bam Bam Bigelow & Kevin Sullivan vs The Road Warriors & Norman the Lunatic
Results: lost when Hawk pinned Sullivan

June 9, 1991 - UWF Beach Brawl
Palmetto, Florida - Manatee Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Bob Orton vs Steve Ray & Sunny Beach
Results: lost

November 19, 1991 - WCW Clash of the Champions XVII
Savannah, Georgia
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Van Hammer
Results: won by pinfall

January 21, 1991 - WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII
Topeka, Kansas
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Van Hammer in a falls count anywhere match
Results: won by pinfall

October 27, 1991 - WCW Halloween Havoc
Chattanooga, Tennesee - UTC Arena
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Big Van Vader, Diamond Studd & Abdullah the Butcher vs Sting, El Gigante & The Steiners in a "Chamber of Horrors" match
Results: lost when Abdullah was placed in the "electric chair"

December 29, 1991 - WCW Starrcade
Norfolk, Virginia - The Scope
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker vs Rick Steamboat & Todd Champion in a
"Lethal Lottery" match
Results: lost when Steamboat pinned Parker

February 29, 1992 - WCW SuperBrawl II
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The Mecca
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Ron Simmons
Results: lost by pinfall

May 17, 1992 - WCW Wrestle War
Jacksonville, Florida - Jacksonville Coliseum
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Mr. Hughes vs Ron Simmons & Junkyard Dog
Results: Match never occured as Jack injured JYD in a prematch attack
(Simmons beat Hudges in a match)

June 20, 1992 - WCW Beach Blast
Mobile, Alabama - Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Sting in a falls count anywhere match
Results: lost by pinfall

September 2, 1992 - WCW Clash of the Champions XX
Atlanta, Georgia
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Ron Simmons in a world title match
Results: lost

November 18, 1992 - WCW Clash of the Champions XXI
Macon, Georgia
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Tony Atlas & The Barbarian vs 2 Cold Scorpio & Ron Simmons
Results: lost

December 28, 1992 - WCW Starrcade
Atlanta, Georgia - The Omni
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Johnny B. Badd vs Van Hammer & Dan Spivey in a "Lethal Lottery" match
Results: lost when Hammer pinned Cactus

January 13, 1993 - WCW Clash of the Champions XXII
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Johnny B. Badd
Results: won
Match: with Sting & Dustin Rhodes vs Vader, Barry Windham & Paul Orndorff in a "Thundercage" no-DQ street fight
Results: won

August 18, 1993 - WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV
Daytona Beach, Florida
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Vader for the world title
Results: lost

September 19, 1993 - WCW Fall Brawl
Houston, Texas
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Yoshi Kwan
Results: won

October 24, 1993 - WCW Halloween Havoc
New Orleans, Louisiana - Lakefront Arena
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Vader in a "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" match that ended up being a Texas death match
Results: lost

November 20, 1993 - WCW Battlebowl
(I'm not sure about the location here either - thanks, PWI Almanac)
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Vader vs Charlie Norris & Kane (of Harlem Heat) in a "Lethal Lottery" match
Results: won when Vader pinned Norris
Match: 16-man batttle royal featuring the "Lethal Lottery" winners
Results: eliminated

December 27, 1993 - WCW Starrcade
Charlotte, North Carolina - Independance Arena
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Maxx Payne vs Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce
Results: won when Cactus pinned Slazenger

January 24, 1994 - WCW Clash of the Champions XXVI
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys
Results: won

February 20, 1994 - WCW SuperBrawl IV
Albany, Georgia - Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys in a tag title match
Results: won by DQ when Knobs smashed a guitar over Cactus' head

April 17, 1994 - WCW Spring Stampede
Chicago, Illinois - Rosemont Horizon
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys in a tag title Chicago street fight
Results: lost

May 22, 1994 - WCW Slamboree
Philadelphia, PA - Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Kevin Sullivan vs The Nasty Boys in a tag title match (guest referee Dave Schultz, a retired Philadelphia Flyer hockey player)
Results: won match and titles when Cactus pinned Sags

June 24, 1994 - WCW Clash of the Champions XXVII
Charleston, South Carolina
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: Defended world tag titles with Kevin Sullivan vs The Nasty Boys
Results: won match to retain belts

July 17, 1994 - WCW Bash at the Beach
Orlando, Florida - Florida Arena
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: in a tag title defense with Kevin Sullivan vs Pretty Wonderful
Results: lost match and titles when Paul Orndorff pinned Cactus

September 18, 1994 - WCW Fall Brawl
Roanoke, Virginia - Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Kevin Sullivan in a loser-leaves-WCW match
Results: lost, forced to leave WCW

April 28, 1996 - WWF In Your House
Omaha, Nebraska - Civic Auditorium
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker in a match not televised
Results: lost via pinfall

June 23, 1996 - WWF King of the Ring
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The Mecca
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker
Results: won when The Undertaker was declared unconscious

July 21, 1996 - WWF In Your House
Vancouver, British Columbia - General Motors Palace
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Henry Godwinn
Results: won

August 18, 1996 - WWF SummerSlam
Cleveland, Ohio - Gund Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker in a boiler room brawl
Results: won after Paul Bearer hit the 'Taker with his urn

September 22, 1996 - WWF In Your House: Mind Games
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - CoreStates Spectrum
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title
Results: lost by DQ when Vader interfered

October 20, 1996 - WWF In Your House: Buried Alive
Indianapolis, Indiana - Market Square Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker in a "Buried Alive" match
Results: lost when he was "buried"

November 17, 1996 - WWF Survivor Series
New York, New York - Madison Square Garden
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker, with Paul Bearer suspended in a cage above the ring
Results: lost by pinfall

December 15, 1996 - WWF In Your House
West Palm Beach, Florida - The Auditorium
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Shawn Michaels in a match not televised
Results: lost by pinfall

January 19, 1997 - WWF Royal Rumble
San Antonio, Texas - Alamo Dome
Identity: Mankind
Match: The Royal Rumble
Results: eliminated

March 23, 1997 - WWF WrestleMania XIII
Rosemont, Illinois - Rosemont Horizon
Identity: Mankind
Match: with Vader against Owen Hart & The British Bulldog in a tag title match
Results: wrestled to a double-countout

April 20, 1997 - WWF In Your House: 'Taker's Revenge
Rochester, New York - War Memorial Auditorium
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker for the WWF Title
Results: lost by pinfall

May 11, 1997 - WWF In Your House: Cold Day in Hell
Richmond, Virginia - The Coliseum
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Rocky Maivia
Results: won by submission

June 8, 1997 - WWF King of the Ring
Providence, Rhode Island - Civic Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Jerry Lawler in a King of the Ring semifinal match
Results: won by submission
Match: vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the King of the Ring finals
Results: lost by pinfall

July 6, 1997 - WWF In Your House: Canadian Stampede
Calgary, Alberta - The Saddledome
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Results: wrestled to a double-DQ

August 3, 1997 - WWF SummerSlam
East Rutherford, New Jersey - Continental Airlines Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a cage match
Results: won

September 20, 1997 - WWF One Night Only
Birmingham, England - N.E.C. Arena
Identity: Dude Love
Match: vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Results: lost by pinfall

November 9, 1997 - WWF Survivor Series
Montreal, Quebec - Molson Centre
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Kane
Results: lost by pinfall

January 18, 1998 - WWF Royal Rumble
San Jose, California - San Jose Arena
Identity: Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love
Match: The Royal Rumble
Results: eliminated all three times

February 15, 1998 - WWF No Way Out
Houston, Texas - Compaq Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Steve Austin, Owen Hart, and Chainsaw Charlie vs HHH, New Age
Outlaws, and Savio Vega
Results: won

March 29, 1998 - WWF WrestleMania XIV
Boston, Massachusetts - Fleet Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: with Terry Funk vs The New Age Outlaws in a tag title dumpster match
Results: won when the Outlaws were closed in a dumpster to win the titles

April 26, 1998 - WWF Unforgiven
Greensboro, North Carolina - Greensboro Coliseum
Identity: Dude Love
Match: vs Steve Austin for the WWF Title
Results: lost by DQ

May 31, 1998 - WWF Over the Edge
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Wisconsin Center Arena
Identity: Dude Love
Match: vs Steve Austin for the WWF Title with guest referee Vince McMahon
Results: lost by pinfall

June 28, 1998 - WWF King of the Ring
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Civic Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Undertaker in a "Hell in a Cell" match
Results: lost by pinfall

July 26, 1998 - WWF Fully Loaded
Fresno, California - Civic Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: with Kane, defended the tag titles against Steve Austin & The
Results: lost by pinfall, lost the belts

August 30, 1998 - WWF SummerSlam
New York, New York - Madison Square Garden
Identity: Mankind
Match: defended the tag titles by himself against the New Age Outlaws in a
handicap match
Results: lost by pinfall, lost the belts

September 27, 1998 - WWF Break Down
Hamilton, Ontario - Copps Coliseum
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Rock and Ken Shamrock in a triple threat cage match
Results: lost when The Rock pinned Shamrock

October 18, 1998 - WWF Judgment Day
Rosemont, Illinois - Rosemont Horizon
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Ken Shamrock for the I-C title
Results: lost by submission when he submitted to his own mandible claw

November 15, 1998 - WWF Survivor Series
St. Louis, Missouri - Kiel Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Duane Gill in a WWF Title tournament first round match
Results: won
Match: vs Al Snow in a WWF Title tournament quarterfinals match
Results: won
Match: vs Steve Austin in a WWF Title tournament semifinals match
Results: won
Match: vs The Rock in the WWF Title tournament finals
Results: lost by submission to the sharpshooter

December 6, 1998 - WWF Capital Carnage
London, England - London Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Steve Austin, Kane, and The Undertaker in a four-way match
Results: lost (Austin won)

December 13, 1998 - WWF Rock Bottom
Vancouver, British Columbia - GM Place
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Rock for the WWF Title
Results: won with the mandible claw, but Mankind said he would make The Rock submit and Rock didn't

January 24, 1999 - WWF Royal Rumble
Anaheim, California - Arrowhead Pond
Identity: Mankind
Match: defended the WWF Title against The Rock in an "I Quit" match
Results: lost when he said "I Quit" (or a recording did), lost the belt

February 14, 1999 - WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Memphis, Tennesee - The Pyramid
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Rock in a WWF Title "last man standing" match
Results: wrestled to a draw when neither could answer the 10-count

March 28, 1999 - WWF WrestleMania XV

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - First Union Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Big Show to determine who would referee the main event
Results: won by disqualification

April 25, 1999 - WWF Backlash
Providence, Rhode Island - Civic Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs The Big Show in a boiler room brawl
Results: won when he was the first to leave the boiler room

May 16, 1999 - WWF No Mercy
Manchester, England - MEN Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Billy Gunn
Results: lost

May 23, 1999 - WWF Over the Edge
Kansas City, Missouri - Kemper Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: with Ken Shamrock, Big Show, and Test vs Viscera, Acolytes, and
Bossman in an elimination match
Results: won

August 22, 1999 - WWF SummerSlam
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Target Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Steve Austin and HHH in a triple threat WWF Title match with guest referee Jesse Ventura
Results: won match and title when he pinned Austin

September 26, 1999 - WWF Unforgiven
Charlotte, North Carolina - The Coliseum
Identity: Mankind
Match: "Six-Pack Challenge" for the vacant WWF Title with Kane, The British Bulldog, HHH, The Big Show, and The Rock with guest referee Steve Austin
Results: lost (HHH pinned The Rock to win the title)

October 17, 1999 - WWF No Mercy
Cleveland, Ohio - Gund Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: vs Val Venis
Results: lost

November 14, 1999 - WWF Survivor Series
Detroit, Michigan - Joe Lewis Arena
Identity: Mankind
Match: with Al Snow vs The New Age Outlaws in a tag title match
Results: lost when Billy Gunn pinned Mankind

December 12, 1999 - WWF Armageddon
Fort Lauderdale, Florida - National Car Rental Center
Identity: Mankind
Match: with The Rock vs The New Age Outlaws in a tag title match
Results: won by DQ when Al Snow interfered, Outlaws keep belts

January 23, 2000 - WWF Royal Rumble
New York, New York - Madison Square Garden
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Triple H in an "anything goes" match for the WWF Title
Results: lost by pinfall

February 27, 2000 - WWF No Way Out
Hardford, Connecticut - Civic Center
Identity: Cactus Jack
Match: vs Triple H in a WWF Title "Hell in a Cell" match with Cactus' career on the line
Results: lost by pinfall, Cactus Jack must retire


WWF World Title:
1 - won on December 29, 1999 (from The Rock)
2 - won on January 26, 1999 (from The Rock in the empty-arena "Halftime
Heat" match)
3 - won on August 22, 1999 (from Steve Austin and HHH in a triple threat

WWF World Tag Team Titles:
1 - won on July 14, 1997, with Steve Austin (from Owen Hart & British
2 - won on March 29, 1998, with Terry Funk (from the New Age Outlaws in a
dumpster match)
3 - won on July 13, 1998, with Kane (from The New Age Outlaws)
4 - won on August 10, 1998, with Kane (from Steve Austin & The Undertaker)
5 - won on August 30, 1999, with The Rock (from The Undertaker & Big Show)
6 - won on September 20, 1999, with The Rock (from The Undertaker & Big
7 - won on October 12, 1999, with The Rock (from the New Age Outlaws)
8 - won on November 2, 1999, with Al Snow (from the Hollys)

WWF Hardcore Title:
1 - awarded title by Vince McMahon in 1998

WCW World Tag Team Titles:
1 - won on May 22, 1994, with Kevin Sullivan (from The Nasty Boys)

ECW Tag Team Titles:
1 - won on August 27, 1994, with Mikey Whipwreck (from Public Enemy)
2 - won on December 29, 1995, with Mikey Whipwreck (from The Sandman & 2
Cold Scorpio)


Match of the Year:
1999 winner vs The Rock
1998 winner vs The Undertaker
1996 first runner-up vs Shawn Michaels
1994 first runner-up with Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys
1993 third runner-up vs Vader
1991 third runner-up vs Eddie Gilbert

Feud of the Year:
1996 second runner-up vs The Undertaker
1993 second runner-up vs Vader
1991 second runner-up with Abdullah the Butcher vs Sting

Most Popular Wrestler of the Year:
1999 third runner-up

Most Improved Wrestler of the Year:

1990 third runner-up

Inspirational Wrestler of the Year:
1998 second runner-up

Not too shabby of a career, is it? Thanks Mick, and enjoy your retirement from wrestling. Well, the actual wrestling part of it... I have a feeling you aren't done with the whole sports-entertainment thing yet.

The WAWLI Papers # 797...


(The Atlantic Monthly, March, 1972

By William C. Martin

When I die, I want to be cremated, and I want my ashes scattered in the Coliseum on Friday night. It's in my will." Thus spoke a little old lady who hasn't missed a Friday night wrestling match for -- well, she's not exactly sure, but "it's been a long time, son, a long time." On Friday night, fifty times a year, more than 6500 fans stream into the Coliseum in downtown Houston for promoter Paul Boesch's weekly offering of Crushers, Killers, Bruisers, and Butchers, Commies, Nazis, Japs, and A-rabs, Dukes, Lords, and Barons, Professors and Doctors, Cowboys and Indians, Spoilers and Sissies, Farmers and Lumberjacks, Bulls and Mad Dogs, Masked Men and Midgets, Nice Girls and Bitches, and at least one Clean-cut, Finely Muscled Young Man who never fights dirty until provoked beyond reason and who represents the Last, Best, Black, Brown, Red, or White Hope for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Though scoffed at by much of the public as a kind of gladiatorial theater in which showmanship counts for more than genuine athletic skill, professional wrestling enjoys steadily increasing success not only in Houston but in hundreds of tank towns and major cities all over America. This is not, of course, the first time around. Pro wrestling has been part of the American scene for more than a century and has enjoyed several periods of wide popularity. For most fans over thirty, however, it began sometime around 1949, with the arrival of television. Lou Thesz was world champion in those days, but the man who symbolized professional wrestling to most people was Georgeous George, a consummate exhibitionist whose long golden curls, brocade and satin robes, and outrageously effeminate manner drew huge crowds wherever he went, all hoping to see a local he-man give him the beating he so obviously deserved.

The Georgeous One's success at the box office ushered in a new era of wrestler-showman, each trying to appear more outrageous than the others. For many, villainy has provided the surest route to fame and fortune. The overwhelming majority of professional wrestling matches pit the Good, the Pure, and the True against the Bad, the Mean, and the Ugly, and a man with a flair for provoking anger and hatred has an assured future in the sport. Since shortly after World War II, the most dependable source of high displeasure has been the Foreign Menace, usually an unreconstructed Nazi or a wily Japanese who insults the memory of our boys in uniform with actions so contemptuous one cannot fail to be proud that our side won the war.

Houston's most recent Nazi was Baron von Raschke, a snarling Hun with an Iron Cross on his cape and red swastikas on his shoes, who acknowledged his prefight introductions with a sharply executed goose step. Raschke, however, managed to make one think of George Lincoln Rockwell more often than Hitler or Goebbels, and so never really achieved first-class menacehood. It must be disappointing to be a Nazi and not have people take you seriously.

Now, Japs, especially Big Japs, are a different story. For one thing, they all know karate and can break railroad ties with their bare hands. For another, they are sneaky. So when Toru Tanaka climbs into the ring in that red silk outfit with the dragon on the back, and bows to the crowd and smiles that unspeakably wicked smile, and then caps it off by throwing salt all over everything in a ceremony designed to win the favor of god knows how many of those pagan deities Japanese people worship you just know that nice young man up there in the ring with him is in serious trouble.

Another major Foreign Menace is, of course, the Russian. Russian wrestlers are named Ivan, Boris, or Nikita, and although they have defected from Russia in quest of a few capitalist dollars, they still retain a lot of typically Communist characteristics, like boasting that Russians invented certain well-known wrestling techniques and predicting flatly that the World Champion's belt will one day hang from the Kremlin wall. Furthermore, they value nothing unless it serves their own selfish aims. After a twenty-year partnership with Lord Charles Montague, Boris Malenko states flatly, "I owe his lordship nothing. Remember one thing about us Russians. When we have no more use for anybody or anything, we let them go. Friendship means nothing to a Russian. When we get through with the Arabs and Castro, you will see what I mean. When we want something we don't care who we step on."

Wrestling fans are generally an egalitarian lot, at least among themselves, and they do not appreciate those who put on airs. So they are easily angered by another strain of crowd displeaser one might call Titled Snobs and Pointy-Headed Intellectuals. These villains, who love to call themselves "Professor" or "Doctor" or "Lord" Somebody-or-other, use the standard bag of tricks --pulling a man down by his hair, rubbing his eyes with objects secreted in trunks or shoes, stomping his face while he lies wounded and helpless --but their real specialty is treating the fans like ignorant yahoos. They walk and speak with disdain for common folk, and never miss a chance to belittle the crowd in sesquipedalian put-downs or to declare that their raucous and uncouth behavior calls for nothing less than a letter to the Times, to inform proper Englishmen of the deplorable state of manners in the Colonies.

A third prominent villain is the Big Mean Sonofabitch. Dick the Bruiser, Cowboy Bill Watts, Butcher Vachone, Killer Kowalski --these men do not need swastikas and monocles and big words to make you hate them. They have the bile of human meanness by the quart in every vein. If a guileless child hands a Sonofabitch a program to autograph, he will often brush it aside or tear it into pieces and throw it on the floor. It isn't that he has forgotten what it was like to be a child. As a child, he kicked crutches from under crippled newsboys and cheated on tests and smoked in the rest room. Now, at 260 pounds, he goes into the ring not just to win, but to injure and maim. Even before the match begins, he attacks his trusting opponent from behind, pounding his head into the turnbuckle, kicking him in the kidneys, stomping him in the groin, and generally seeking to put him at a disadvantage. These are bad people. None of us is really safe as long as they go unpunished.

Fortunately, these hellish legions do not hold sway unchallenged by the forces of Right. For every villain there is a hero who seeks to hold his own against what seem to be incredible odds. Heroes also fall into identifiable categories. Most of them are trim and handsome young men in their twenties or early thirties, the sort that little boys want to grow up to be, and men want to have as friends, and women want to have, also. Personable Bobby Shane wins hearts when he wrestles in his red, white, and blue muscle suit with the "USA" monogram: and when Tim Woods, dressed all in white, is introduced as a graduate of Michigan State University, older folk nod approvingly. They want their sons and grandsons to go to college, even though they didn't have a chance to go themselves, and it is reassuring to see living proof that not everybody who goes to college is out burning draft cards and blowing up banks.

Though quick to capitalize on the jingoist appeal of matches involving Menacing Foreigners, few promoters will risk a match that might divide the house along racial lines. So black and brown wrestlers usually appear in the role of Hero, behind whom virtually the entire crowd can unite. Browns -- Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Puerto Ricans -- are almost invariably handsome, lithe, and acrobatic. They fight "scientifically" and seldom resort to roughhouse tactics until they have endured so much that the legendary Latin temper can no longer be contained. If a black chooses to play the villain, he will soften the racial element: when Buster Lloyd, the Harlem Hangman, came into town, he belittled the skills of his opponents not because they were white, but because they were Texans and therefore little challenge for a man who learned to fight at the corner of Lenox Avenue and 125th Street. Several white grapplers might have been able to handle Buster, but the hero selected to take his measure and send him packing back to Harlem was Tiger Conway, a black Texan.

The purest of pure Americans, of course, and a people well acquainted with villainy, are Red Indians. Most wrestling circuits feature a Red Indian from time to time; in Houston, ex-Jets linebacker Chief Wahoo McDaniel is the top attraction and has wrestled in the Coliseum more than a hundred times in the last three years. Like Chief White Owl, Chief Suni War Cloud, and Chief Billy Two Rivers, Wahoo enters the ring in moccasin-style boots, warbonnet, and other Indian authentica. He can endure great pain and injustice without flinching or retaliating in kind, but when enraged, or sometimes just to get the old adrenaline going, he will rip into a furious war dance and level his opponent with a series of karate-like Tomahawk Chops to the chest or scalp, then force him into submission with the dreaded Choctaw Death Lock.

Although no Nazi fights clean and few Red Indians fight dirty, not all wrestlers can be characterized so unambiguously. The Masked Man for example, is sinister-looking, and usually evil, with a name indicative of his intentions: The Destroyer, The Assassin, The Hangman and Spoilers One, Two, and Three. But some masked men, like Mr. Wrestling and Mil Mascaras (who stars in Mexican movies as a masked crime-fighting wrestler), are great favorites, and Clawman has tried to dignify mask-wearing by having Mrs. Clawman and the Clawchildren sit at ringside in matching masks.

The majority of Houston's wrestling fans appear to be working-class folk. The white and Mexican-American men still wear crew cuts and well-oiled pompadours, and many black men and boys cut their hair close to the scalp. Family men, often with several children in tow, wear Perma-Prest slacks and plaid sport shirts with the T-shirt showing at the neck. Others, who stand around before the matches drinking Lone Star Beer and looking for friendly ladies, favor cowboy boots, fancy Levis, and Western shirts with the top two or three pearl buttons already unsnapped. Occasionally, a black dude in a purple jump suit and gold ruffled shirt shows up, but the brothers in nondescript trousers and short-sleeve knits far outnumber him. The women cling stubbornly to bouffant hairstyles, frequently in shades blonder or redder or blacker than hair usually gets, and at least 80 percent wear pants of some sort.

One basic reason these people come to the Coliseum is reflected in the motto displayed in Boesch's office: "Professional Wrestling: the sport that gives you your money's worth." Approximately half the Houston cards feature at least one championship bout or a battle for the right to meet the men's, women's, midgets', tag-team, or Brass Knucks champion of Texas, the United States, or the World. If fans grow jaded with championships, Boesch adds extra wrestlers to produce two-, three-, and four- man team matches, heavyweight-midget teams, man-woman teams, and Battles Royale, in which ten men try to throw each other over the top rope, the grand prize going to the last man left in the ring.

Grudge matches, of course, are the backbone of professional wrestling, and Boesch's skillful exploitation of grudges allows him to draw large crowds and to use wrestlers like Johnny Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel over and over again without having the fans grow weary of them. Men fight grudge matches for many reasons, all of which are elaborately developed in the printed programs and on televised threat-and-insult sessions during intermissions.

They fight to uphold the honor of former associates, as when ex-gridders Ernie Ladd and Wahoo took on Valentine and Killer Karl Kox after the veteran wrestlers called them "big dumb football players" who did not have brains enough to engage in "the sport of the intelligentsia." They fight to avenge wrongs done to members of their family, as when Wild Bull Curry demanded to meet Valentine after the ruffian injured Wild Bull's popular son, Flying Freddy Curry, also known as Bull, Jr. And, in expression of a grudge more generic than personal, they fight to re-establish American supremacy over Foreign Menaces, as when Valentine turned hero-for-a-night by flying in from Asia to repay Toru Tanaka for the punishment the Dirty Jap had been handing out to the local heroes.

But not all grudge matches are fought for such lofty ideals. When Killer Karl Kox and Killer Kowalski wound up in Houston at the same time, they fought for the exclusive right to wear the nickname. In another long rivalry, marked by low but engaging comedy, Boris Malenko sought to humiliate Wahoo, who had kicked out several of the Russian's teeth a few weeks before, by challenging him to a match in which the loser's head would be shaved in the ring immediately afterward. Malenko lost, suffered the jeers of the fans for several weeks --"Hey, Baldy, why don't you go back to Russia ?"--then challenged Wahoo to a rematch, the loser of which was to leave the state for a full year. The Russian, who had made himself doubly hateful by assuming the title of Professor, promised to punish Wahoo with his new steel dentures, and fans anguished over the possibility that their favorite Indian might bite the dust. Happily, Wahoo won the match, and Boris allegedly caught the first bus to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

To keep fans from tiring of a grudge series before it has yielded its full potential, promoters enhance the appeal of rematches by scheduling them under special rules and conditions that are something of a drawing card in themselves. The circumstances of previous matches often determine the conditions of the next. If one was decided by a questionable use of the ropes, the next might be fought with the ropes removed. If a cowardly villain frustrated a hero's attempt at vengeance by leaving the ring when the going got tough, he might find his way to safety blocked in the next match by a chain-link fence or a posse of eight or ten wrestlers stationed around the ring.

If Wahoo is involved, at least one match in the series will be an Indian Strap Match, in which the opponents are linked to each other by an eight-foot strap of rawhide. The strap can be used to beat, choke, and jerk, and the winner is the first man to drag his opponent around the ring twice. The Russian Chain Match is based on the same principle, but an eight-toot length of heavy chain is considerably more dangerous than a strip of leather.

For guaranteed action, however, none of these can equal a Texas Death Match. In this surefire crowd-pleaser, usually arranged after several battles have failed to establish which of the two rivals is tougher, there are no time limits, no specified number of falls, no grounds for disqualification. A victor is declared when one of the wrestlers can no longer continue, usually because he lies unconscious somewhere in or around the ring. Fans seldom leave a Texas Death Match without feeling they got their money's worth.

For many regulars, Friday night at the Coliseum is the major social event of the week. All over the arena blacks, browns, and whites visit easily across ethnic lines, in perverse defiance of stereotypes about blue-collar prejudices. A lot of people in the ringside section know each other, by sight if not by name. Mrs. Elizabeth Chappell, better known simply as "Mama," has been coming to the matches for more than twenty-five years. Between bouts, she walks around the ring, visiting with old friends and making new ones. When she beats on a fallen villain with a huge mallet she carries in a shopping bag, folks shout, "Attaway, Mama! Git him!" and agree that "things don't really start to pick up till Mama gets here." When a dapper young insurance salesman flies into a rage at a referee's decision, the fans nudge one another and grin about how "old Freddy really gets worked up, don't he?"

Professional wrestling offers fans an almost unparalleled opportunity to indulge aggressive and violent impulses. A few appreciate the finer points of a takedown or a switch or a Fireman's Carry, but most would walk out on the NCAA wrestling finals or a collegiate match between Lehigh and Oklahoma. They want hitting and kicking and stomping and bleeding. Especially bleeding.

Virtually all bouts incite a high level of crowd noise, but the sight of fresh blood streaming from a wrestler's forehead immediately raises the decibel level well into the danger zone. This is what they came to see. If both men bleed, what follows is nothing less than orgiastic frenzy. Mere main events and world championships and tag-team matches eventually run together to form murky puddles in the back regions of the mind, but no one forgets the night he saw real blood. One woman recalled such a peak experience in tones that seemed almost religious: "One night, about six or seven years ago, Cowboy Ellis was hit against the post and got three gashes in his head. I grabbed him when he rolled out of the ring and got blood on my dress all the way from the neckline to the hem. I thought he would bleed to death in my arms. I never washed that dress. I've still got it at the house. I keep it in a drawer all by itself."

The lust for blood is not simply ghoulish, but a desire to witness the stigmata, the apparently irrefutable proof that what is seen is genuine. Wrestling fans freely acknowledge that much of the action is faked, that many punches are pulled, that the moisture that flies through the air after a blow is not sweat but spit, and that men blunt the full effect of stomping opponents by allowing the heel to hit the canvas before the ball of the foot slaps the convenientlv outstretched arm. They not only acknowledge the illusion; they jeer when it is badly performed: "Aw my goodness! He can't even make it look good!" Still, they constantly try to convince themselves and each other that at least part of what they are seeing on a given night is real. When Thunderbolt Patterson throws Bobby Shane through the ropes onto the concrete, a woman shouts defiantly, "Was that real? Tell me that wasn't real!" And when Johnny Valentine and Ernie Ladd are both disqualified after a three-fall slugfest, a young man tells his buddy, "I think that was real. You know, sometimes they do get mad. One time Killer Kowalski got so mad he tore old Yukon Eric's ear plumb off." But when blood flows, no one seeks or needs confirmation.

The effects on fans of viewing such violence are disputed. Some experiments with children and college students offer evidence that observing violent behavior either produces no change or raises the level of aggressive tendencies in the spectator. Other research, however, indicates that wrestling fans do experience a decrease in aggressive tendencies after viewing wrestling matches. Still, manipulating hatred and aggressive tendencies is not without its risks. Every wrestler has seen or heard about the time when some fan went berserk and clubbed or burned or cut or shot a villain who played his role too convincingly, and Tim Woods, it is said, has had only nine fingers since the night a challenger from the audience grabbed his hand, bit down extra hard, and spat the tenth out onto the mat. Then, too, the possibility always exists that in the highly charged atmosphere of the arena, a wrestler may lose control of himself and cause real damage to his opponent. If he were alive today, old Yukon Eric could tell you something about that.

The Portrayal of Life that unfolds in the ring is no naïive melodrama in which virtue always triumphs and cheaters never win. Whatever else these folk know, they know that life is tough and filled with conflict, hostility, and frustration. For every man who presses toward the prize with pure heart and clean hands, a dozen Foreigners and so-called Intellectuals and Sonsofbitches seek to bring him down with treachery and brute force and outright meanness. And even if he overcomes these, there are other, basically decent men who seek to defeat him in open competition.

Nothing illustrates the frustrations of the climb to the top more clearly than the Saga of Wahoo McDaniel. For three years, Wahoo has been a top challenger for the National Wrestling Alliance world championship owned by Dory Funk, Jr. A quiet and rather colorless man, who still wears his letter jacket from West Texas State rather than the theatrical garb favored by his rivals, Funk is rough but seldom really dirty, and he knows what he is doing in the ring. Folks may not particularly like him, but they have to respect him. He is no fluke champion, and they know that neither Wahoo not anyone else can be Number One until he has defeated Dory Funk, Jr., fair and square.

They believe Wahoo can do just that. Wahoo believes it himself and on a dozen occasions has come within seconds of proving it, only to have what seemed certain victory snatched from his hands. Two of their matches ended in a draw. Wahoo lost a third when the referee missed an obvious pin. Funk was disqualified in their next meeting, but titles do not change hands on disqualifications. The champion then won a Texas Death Match by knocking Wahoo out cold with a steel folding chair, a legal but grossly unsportsmanlike tactic.

Two years after they first met, Wahoo and Dory are still at it. In their latest match the third fall apparently ended with Wahoo the winner and new champion, but as he danced around the ring in triumph, the timekeeper informed the referee that Dory's feet had been over the bottom rope, thus nullifying the decision. The referee ordered the match to continue, but Wahoo missed the signal and Funk grabbed him from behind to gain a quick pin. Fans fumed and screamed, then filed out in silent despair. Long after most of them were gone, Freddy the insurance salesman maintained a noisy vigil at ringside, beating on the mat and shouting to nobody in particular, "People paid good money to come see this, and the damn referee is so stupid he has to ask the timekeeper what happened. There's got to be a rematch."

There will be, Freddy, there will be.


The WAWLI Papers # 798...



Wrestling is introduced to a new fashion trend that never goes out of style: masks. The first-ever masked wrestler climbs into the squared-circle in Paris. His name? The Masked Wrestler. I kid you not.

February 6: William Muldoon beats French champion Christol for the Greco-Roman title.

April 27: The legendary Frank Gotch is born on a farm near Humboldt, IA.

July 20: Another true legend (perhaps wrestling's first real star), George Hackenschmidt, is born in Dorpat, Russia. Hackenschmidt is the result of a Swedish-German marriage.

January 19: Over 3000 fans come out to Gilmore's Gardens (the site of what would later become Madison Square Garden) to watch William Muldoon defend the Greco-Roman title. Muldoon beats Thebaud Bauer in a 2-of-3 falls contest.

Unknown date: William Muldoon tackles boxer John L. Sullivan in Gloucester, MA. The bout ends when Muldoon slams Sullivan, prompting a number of marks to rush the ring.

Unknown date: Ed Decker wins the Police Gazette wrestling belt. Of note, Decker is managed by PT Barnum -- proving there is indeed a Decker born every minute.

March 14: Evan "Strangler" Lewis opens up a can of whup-ass on Joe Acton, beating the man for American Catch-as-Catch Can championship. The bout takes place in Chicago.

March 2: Lewis pops up another can of whup-ass, this time on Ernest Roeber, the Greco-Roman champ. The bout is a best-of-five falls match, with each fall alternating between the catch-as-catch can and Greco-Roman styles. Lewis unites the titles.

April 5: Joe Stecher is born in Dodge, NE.

April 20: Strangler Lewis opens up a can of whup-ass, but it's flat -- he loses the American heavyweight title to Martin "Farmer" Burns in Chicago.

September: Eighteen-year-old George Hackenschmidt makes his wrestling debut.

January 2: Jim Londos is born in Argos, Greece. Of note, his father was a Greek amateur champion. Ah, but what do Greeks know about amateur wrestling, right?

October 26: Dan McLeod beats Martin "Farmer" Burns for the American heavyweight championship in Indianapolis.

April 2: Twenty-year-old Frank Gotch starts his career. He beats Marshall Greene in Humboldt, IA.

Unknown date: The homosexual capital of the world, San Francisco, hosts wrestling's first tag matches. No truth to the rumour they were ever jokingly referred to as "fag matches."

November 7: Tom Jenkins wins the American heavyweight title from Dan McLeod.

December 26: In a best-of-three falls contest, Dan McLeod regains the title from Tom Jenkins in Worchester, MA. The first fall goes to Jenkins at about 59:00. McLeod takes the second fall 24 minutes later. The match ends in bizarre fashion: Jenkins seemingly injures his leg and forfeits after about 20 minutes. However, it's later reported that Jenkins' leg injury is related to blood poisoning.

February 22: Tom Jenkins and Frank Gotch meet in the first match between the dominant wrestlers of the era. Jenkins wins the Cleveland contest.

April 3: Tom Jenkins takes the American title back from Dan McLeod in Buffalo. He wins two straight falls in a best-of-three falls match that lasts 91 minutes.

January 27: Frank Gotch beats Jenkins for the American title in Bellingham, WA. Gotch takes two straight falls -- one by pin, the other by disqualification.

February 5: Tom Jenkins challenges Frank Gotch for the American title in Jenkins' home town, Cleveland. Gotch wins two straight falls after Jenkins takes the first one. The press blasts Jenkins for running out of gas mid-way through the contest. Geez -- don't these reporting sluggos know anything about kayfabe? Yeesh.

March 15: Tom Jenkins takes his third American title, a record. He beats Frank Gotch at Madison Square Garden.

May 5: A match that crowned the very first World champion in North America takes place in Madison Square Garden. American champ Tom Jenkins does battle with World Greco-Roman titleholder George Hackenschmidt. Jenkins gets his butt kicked by Hackenschmidt, who takes two straight falls to become the World Catch-as-Catch-Can champion. This championship later becomes the original NWA World title, now known as the WCW World title.

May 19: Tom Jenkins redeems himself after the ass-kicking laid upon him two weeks earlier by Hackenschmidt. At Madison Square Garden, Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch 2-1 in a best-of-three-falls encounter. It takes over two hours for all three falls to be decided. In the end, Jenkins wins. A battered Gotch is escorted out of the ring by his seconds.

May 23: Frank Gotch takes his second American title, beating Tom Jenkins 2-1 in a best-of-three-falls contest.

December 1: Hard to put this into perspective more than 90 years later, but Fred Beell pulls a huge upset and takes the American belt from Frank Gotch in New Orleans. Some still refer to this as the biggest upset wrestling has ever seen.

December 17: Frank Gotch comes back, and it's whup-ass time for Fred Beell. Gotch regains the American title for a record-tying third time. He hammers Beell in two straight, lop-sided falls.

April 3: In a match that was the Hogan-Flair of it's day, Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt meet at Chicago's Dexter Park. It took three years to get this match to happen. American champ Gotch is the focal point of a ton of controversy following the contest. Throughout the match, Hackenschmidt complained that Gotch had oiled himself down, making it nearly impossible to grapple with him. Gotch also cheats like a modern-era brawler -- repeatedly fouling Hackenschmidt. The referee turns a blind eye to Gotch's tactics and a deaf ear to Hackenschmidt's complaining, prompting a disgusted Hackenschmidt to leave the ring at 2 hours, 3 minutes. The referee awards the match and the World Catch-as-Catch-Can title to Gotch. Talk about a screw-job.

April 14: World champion Frank Gotch returns from a tour of the UK to face Bulgarian wrestler Yussiff Mahmout in Chicago. Gotch wins easily.

November 25: Frank Gotch faces Stanislaus Zbyszko in a non-title contest, in Buffalo, NY. Gotch wins, and the contest generates some heat between the two. Fans start demanding a title match.

June 1: Stanislaus Zbyszko gets his shot at World champ Frank Gotch at Chicago's Comiskey Park, and manages to drop the first fall of the contest in 6.4 seconds. He never recovers, and loses the contest in two straight falls.

September 4: Three years after the famous Gotch-Hackenschmidt match in Chicago's Dexter Park, the pair meet again at Comiskey Park. The match draws the largest gate to that point in wrestling history -- some $87,000. Unfortunately, Hackenschmidt injures a knee in preparation for the match. This leads to a Gotch win. Again, controversy: would a healthy Hackenschmidt have had his revenge?

October 2: Promoting legend Paul Boesch is born in Brooklyn, NY.

April 1: It's no April fool's joke: Frank Gotch announces his retirement after beating George Lurich in Kansas City, MO. His departure comes just two days shy of the 5th anniversary of his title win over Hackenschmidt.

July 4: More than two years after Gotch's retirement, Joe Stecher becomes the first widely-recognized World champ. He gains this honour by beating Charlie Cutler in Omaha, NE.

October 20: Joe Stecher meets the man who would challenge him as the most dominant wrestler of that era: Ed "Strangler" Lewis. Stecher beats Lewis in their Evansville, IN, contest. Lewis is declared unfit to continue just past the two-hour mark. The match is stopped when the Strangler hits his head on the floor. (Of note, Ed Lewis is the second "Strangler" Lewis, and easily the more famous one)

January: A two-month international tournament comes to an end at Manhattan's Opera House. Alex Aberg wins it all, beating Waldek Zbyszko in the final. Other wrestlers entered include Ed "Strangler" Lewis, BF Roller, Charlie Cutler and The Masked Marvel. The Marvel stunned the crowd early in the tournament. He emerged from the crowd and demanded to be entered.

January 27: World champ Joe Stecher turns back the challenge of The Masked Marvel. The Marvel is revealed to be Mort Henderson.

July 5: Fans in Omaha get a little bored watching Ed "Strangler" Lewis challenge World champ Joe Stecher. Lewis goes on the defensive from the outset, and makes no attempts to grapple the champ. The match is called a draw after five hours. At some points, the fans began to throw seat cushions into the ring to display their anger with Lewis. No one shouted "ECW", however.

Unknown date: Jim Londos debuts.

April 9: Joe Stecher forfeits the World title in a bizzare match in Omaha. He fights Earl Caddock in a best-of-three falls match. Stecher wins the first fall at 82 minutes. One-hundred minutes later, Caddock evens up the falls. Stecher claims he wasn't pinned, and gets so mad he walks away from the third fall. Caddock takes the match and the title.

January 30: Joe Stecher makes a comeback by going through Waldek Zbyszko and Ed "Strangler" Lewis in late 1919. He then regains the World title from Earl Caddock in Madison Square Garden. The match lasts 125 minutes.

December 13: Ed "Strangler" Lewis becomes World champ for the first time by beating Joe Stecher in New York.

May 6: Stanislaus Zbyszko, 11 years removed from a crushing defeat at the hands of Frank Gotch, wins the World title from Ed "Strangler" Lewis in New York.

January 6: Wayne Munn pulls a huge upset, and takes Ed "Strangler" Lewis' World title in Kansas City.

February 28: Ed "Strangler" Lewis catches up with Joe Stecher, and takes the World title for the third time in St. Louis.

August 23: The New York and Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissions recognize Dick Shikat as the World champ after he beats Joe Stecher. The commissions had pulled recognition from Gus Sonnenberg.


Unknown date: Future WWF champ Bob Backlund wins the NCAA Division II 190-pound amateur wrestling championship in North Dakota State.

January 18: Ivan Koloff silences the crowd at Madison Square Garden be beating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title. I mean, he just shocked the house. This put an end to a reign which started nearly eight years earlier.

March 26: Japanese legend Antonio Inoki beats John Tolos in Los Angeles for the United National championship. That belt is now part of All-Japan's triple crown.

August 27: The brutal Fred Blassie-John Tolos feud reaches a climax in Los Angeles. They battle in a bloody contest that draws a crowd of nearly 26,000. Tolos is deemed unfit to continue after Blassie carves up his opponent's head.

May 18: A slim and trim Andre the Giant wins the annual IWA tournament. Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch tie for second place.

June 1: Andre the Giant makes his Canadian debut in Verdun, Quebec.

Unknown date: Ken Patera represents the United States at the Olympics. The future pro wrestling star is a superheavyweight weightlifter at the games.

March: New Japan Pro Wrestling is formed. At the time, the top stars are Antonio Inoki, Osamu Kido and Tatsumi Fujinami.

September 16: The first NWA Missouri State champion is crowned. Harley Race wins a title that is a key championship until 1986. Race beat the hated Pak Song to take championship.

October: It's great year for Japanese wrestling. After the debut of New Japan, All-Japan Pro Wrestling holds its first card. The stars are Shohei "Giant" Baba, Motoshi Okuma, Akio Sato and Mitsuo Momota.

December 18: Mil Mascaras becomes the first masked wrestler to compete at Madison Square Garden in New York. He beat The Spoiler, another masked man.

December 19: Giant Baba defeats The Destroyer. A pre-match stipulation takes effect -- and The Destroyer has to wrestle for All-Japan full-time. The Destroyer becomes the first American to compete in Japan on a steady basis.

Unknown date: Giant Baba is declared the first All-Japan PWF champ. That belt is now part of All-Japan's Triple Crown.

February 27: Giant Baba completes a 10-match series of historic challenges. He goes 8-0-2 against Bruno Sammartino (a win and a draw), Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, The Destroyer, Wilbur Snyder (a win and a draw), Don Leo Johnathan, Pat O'Connor and Bobo Brazil.

March: Future pro Jim Duggan captures the New York State high school wrestling championship for the 250-pound division.

May 18: Bill Watts takes the NWA Georgia title from Mr. Wrestling II.

May 24: Harley Race wins his first NWA World title, ending the four-year reign of Dory Funk, Jr. The win was quite shocking at the time.

July 20: Jack Brisco wins the first of two NWA World titles. He beats Harley Race for the title in Houston. Popular opinion at the time was that Race would never hold the title again. He would. In fact, Race beat Lou Thesz's record of six titles, by winning the belt seven times (or eight, if you're in to revisionist history).

December 10: Antonio Inoki defeats Johnny Powers in Tokyo, and gains the NWF heavyweight title. The belt is the number one prize in New Japan prior to the creation of the IWGP title.

February 16: Cincinnati sees a battle of pro football stars. Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Ron Pritchard beats Cleveland Browns tackle Walter Johnson on a disqualification.

May 9: The first-ever WWWF title match held in Japan sees champ Bruno Sammartino put his strap on the line against PWF champ Giant Baba in a title vs. title contest. It ends in no decision.

October 4: A plane crash shocks the wrestling world. A Cessna 310 goes down near Wilmington, NC. The crash ends the career of the legendary Johnny Valentine. It also cuts short the career of promising youngster Bob Bruggers. Also on the plane is Ric Flair. Flair suffers a broken back, and is told he will never wrestle again.

November 8: Nick Bockinkel puts an end to Verne Gagne's longest AWA title reign. Gagne had held the belt since August 31, 1968. Bockwinkel would hold the title until July 18, 1980, nearly five years as champ.

December 10: Terry Funk wins the NWA World title from Jack Brisco. This makes Terry and his brother Dory the only siblings to hold the NWA belt.

Unknown date: Allen Coage wins a bronze medal in judo for the United States at the Olypics in Montreal.

March 17: A car wreck cuts short the career of Dan Hodge. He suffers a broken neck in the crash.

April 26: It's the incident that makes Stan Hansen famous. In a match against WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino, Hansen accidentally drops the man on the mat and and breaks his neck. Somehow, Bruno continues the contest. Hansen hits Sammartino with a clothesline -- and the promoters play it up like that move broke Bruno's neck. That's why Hansen is famous for the clothesline.

May 24: Ric Flair, the man who shouldn't have come back, beats Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic title. If Flair would have lost the match, he would have lost his hair.

June 25: It's the wrestling fiasco of the decade. Antonio Inoki faces Muhammed Ali in a wrestler vs. boxer match in Tokyo. It's an incredible bore, carried on closed-curcuit television. Inoki purposely spends most of the match on his back, throwing kicks at Ali. It goes to a 15-round draw, with Ali not being able to throw effective punches at a man who is on the mat. Also on the broadcast, Andre the Giant destroys boxer Chuck Wepner in New York. The New York portion of the card sees Bruno Sammartino get his revenge on Stan Hansen.

December 25: It's Merry Christmas for Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. They beat Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World tag titles.

February 6: Harley Race and Terry Funk wrestle one of the best matches of the decade at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Race defeats Funk for the NWA World title, his second of eight.

April 30: Superstar Billy Graham defeats Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World title in Baltimore. The Superstar held the belt for the next ten months, and made a huge impact on the sport. His flamboyant style influenced many men over the years -- including Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan and "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner.

September 25: Lou Thesz loses the last major title of his legendary career, dropping the UWA belt to El Canek. This comes nearly 40 years after Thesz won his first NWA World title.

September 26: Bob Backlund wrestles his first match in Madison Square Garden. He would practically own the place for the next six years.

December 15: Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk beat The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher in the finals of the first-annual World League Tag tournament. It's a wild match, and is legendary in Japan. The Funks become legends in the land of the rising sun.

January 23: Tatsumi Fujinami wins the WWWF junior heavyweight title from Jose Estrada in New York.

October 6: NWA World champion Harley Race bodyslams Andre the Giant. This sort of thing just didn't happen to Andre back then.

Unknown date: Brad Rheingans wins the World Cup in Greco-Roman wrestling. He would become a mid-carder in the AWA for most of the 1980s.

January: Bruiser Brody tears up the Japanese wrestling scene during a tour. Brody become a legend.

April: The World-Wide Wrestling Federation drops the "Wide", and becomes the World Wrestling Federation.

July: The first edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated hits the newsstands. It's still the best rasslin' mag on the market.

July 8: In a battle of The Nature Boys, Ric Flair defeats his idol, Buddy Rogers. Flair does it with the figure-four leglock, which was Rogers' finisher.

August: Fans in Toronto are treated to a great contest. AWA World champion Nick Bockwinkel faces WWF champ Bob Backlund. Title vs. title. After 39 minutes of great action, both men are counted out. The ability to book this contest is just one example of the power that Toronto promoter Frank Tunney had. He could get wrestlers from the AWA, WWF and NWA on his cards -- on the same cards.

August 21: Dusty Rhodes wins the first of his three NWA World titles. He holds the belt for a mere five days. Rhodes won it from Harley Race, and he lost it back to the same man.

August 26: They went head-to-head as promoters for years, but Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba put aside their differences to team for one night against the frightening tandem of Abdullah the Butcher and Tiger Jeet Singh. Inoki and Baba win.

November 30: Antonio Inoki beats Bob Backlund for the WWF title in Japan.

December 6: Backlund regains the WWF title from Inoki. The WWF never told its U.S. audience that Backlund lost the belt while out of the country.


The WAWLI Papers
# 799...



The question of who was the very first recognized World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion is every bit as clouded and controversial as to the reasons of how and why the National Wrestling Alliance was first formed, and why the majority of fans think it ceased to operate between 1991 and 1994. The ever evasive "who?" won "what?" where, is at times crystal clear while excruciatingly dirty at others.

Although the National Wrestling Alliance name itself came into existence when the organization was officially formed in July 1948, new information shows us that it's roots can actually be traced back to the late 19th Century and such immortal wrestling iron men as William Muldoon, George Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch among countless others.There has also been recent speculation that the roots of the NWA far exceed even that and can be traced to the then individual state and regional champions of the era, including the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who in late 1831, beat the Louisiana State Champion in New Salem, Louisiana.

In our never ending attempt to bring the visitors of this website the most comprehensive and thorough compilation of historical events, here now is the "Official" lineage of the World Heavyweight Championship, and thus the History of the National Wrestling Alliance, as recognized by the NWA Board of Directors.
[And special thanks go to the many individuals, organizations and publications that have researched and documented this important information, and for allowing us to use the material here. They include: Hisaharu Tanabe for allowing us to use many of the photographs seen here [Please be sure to visit his web site at for extensive title histories, biographies and photographs of wrestlers and wrestling organizations from around the world]; the 1997 & 1998 editions of Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Wrestling Almanac and Book of Facts; and Wrestling Title Histories by Royal Duncan and Gary Will.]


On February 6th, at the age of 31, William Muldoon takes two straight falls from the French Champion, Christol, in 10 minutes and 17 minutes respectively, to win the World Greco-Roman Championship, thus earning the right to being recognized as the first professional World Wrestling Champion.


On January 19th, before more than 3,000 fans at New York's Gilmore's Gardens [later site of Madison Square Garden], returning World Greco-Roman Champion William Muldoon tops Thebaud Bauer in a best two out of three falls match to continue his claim as "World Champion."


In the very first clash in what is now known as the classic Wrestler versus Boxer match, World Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion William Muldoon squares off against World Boxing Champion John L. Sullivan, in Gloucester, Massachusetts USA. The match is stopped when some in the crowd of 2,000 rush the ring after Muldoon bodyslams Sullivan.

On March 14th, Evan "Strangler" Lewis [the Original Strangler Lewis] defeats Joe Acton in Chicago, Illinois USA, to win the American Catch-as-Catch-Can Championship.

[Note: Details are sketchy at best as to whether or not William Muldoon had previously retired as Champion, or if he was defeated somewhere along the line to enable Joe Acton to claim the "World" title.]


On March 3rd, Evan "Strangler" Lewis defeats American Greco-Roman Champion Ernest Roeber in a best three out of five falls contest in New Orleans, Louisiana USA to unify the two titles. Each fall of the match is alternated between Greco-Roman and Catch-as-Catch-Can rules.


On April 20th, in Chicago, Illinois USA, Martin "Farmer" Burns defeats Evan "Strangler" Lewis, in a best three out of five falls contest to capture the unified "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.


On October 26th, Dan McLeod beats Martin "Farmer" Burns in Indianapolis, Indiana USA, to take the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.


On November 7th, Tom Jenkins defeats Dan McLeod.


On December 26th, in Worcester, Massachusetts USA, Dan McLeod regains the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship by topping Tom Jenkins in a best two out of three falls victory, but the win is tainted. Jenkins takes the first fall in 59 minutes, while McLeod takes the second fall in 24 minutes.Twenty minutes into the third and final fall, Jenkins forfeits the match due to a leg injury, which is later revealed to be food poisoning.


On April 3rd, in Buffalo, New York USA, Tom Jenkins regains the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship by defeating Dan McLeod in two straight falls of 1 hour 17 minutes and 14 minutes 30 seconds respectively.


On January 27th, in Bellingham, Washington USA, Frank Gotch captures the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship, as he defeats Tom Jenkins in two straight falls. While Gotch wins the first fall with a pin, the second fall results in a controversial victory for Gotch as Jenkins is disqualified for fouling him.


On March 15th, at New York's Madison Square Garden, Tom Jenkins overcomes bad press from an unsuccessful title challenge in Cleveland the month before, to regain the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship, taking the third and final fall from Frank Gotch in 10 minutes and 31 seconds.


On May 23rd, Frank Gotch recaptures the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Championship from Tom Jenkins, despite losing the first of the best two out of three falls contest in 26 minutes. Gotch recomposes himself to defeat Jenkins in 14 minutes and 17 minutes in the second and third falls.

On December 1st, in New Orleans, Louisiana USA, Fred Beell stuns the wrestling world with an upset win over Frank Gotch. Sixteen days later, on December 17th, in Kansas City, Missouri USA, Gotch takes the title back in a lopsided two straight fall victory.


On April 3rd, at Dexter Park Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois USA, Frank Gotch beats George Hackenschmidt to win the undisputed World Heavyweight title that some say was three years in the making. The victory, however, has its share of controversy as Hackenschmidt accuses Gotch of oiling his body in an effort to avoid being grabbed, and after two hours and three minutes, quits the match, forcing the referee to award the title to Gotch.


On September 4th, three and a half years after their controversial first meeting, Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt square off again at Chicago's Comiskey Park, with Gotch dominating the match and taking two straight falls, as Hackenschmidt injured his knee in training for the match. The live gate of $87,053 is the biggest ever at the time.


On April 1st, Frank Gotch announces his retirement in Kansas City, Missouri USA, as World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, following a successful title defense against George Lurich.

On May 5th, World Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion George Hackenschmidt takes two straight falls from "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Tom Jenkins at New York's Madison Square Garden, in a match billed as the World Catch-as-Catch-Can Heavyweight Championship. Despite the overwhelming loss, Jenkins continues to call himself the "American" Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, while Hackenschmidt now claims the "World" title, thus splitting the world title's lineage for the first of what will become many times.


Charley Cutler defeats Henry Orderman and Jesse Westegard in a tournament to fill the vacant title.


On July 4th, Joe Stecher defeats Charley Cutler in Omaha, Nebraska.


On April 9th, Earl Caddock takes the World Championship from Joe Stecher in Omaha, Nebraska USA on a forfeit. Stecher, who wins the first fall in one hour twenty two minutes and five seconds, argues so much that he didn't lose the second fall to Caddock in one hour forty minutes and ten seconds, that he refuses to wrestle the third fall and thus loses the title.


On January 30th, Joe Stecher regains the World Championship from Earl Caddock in two hours five minutes and thirty seconds at New York's Madison Square Garden.

On December 13th, Ed "Strangler" Lewis defeats Joe Stecher in one hour forty one minutes and 56 seconds in New York City at the 71st Regiment Armory.


On May 6th, Stanislaus Zbyszko defeats Ed "Strangler" Lewis in 23 minutes seventeen seconds in New York City at the 22nd Regiment Armory.


Ed "Strangler" Lewis regains the title from Stanislaus Zbyszko.


On January 8th, Wayne Munn upsets Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Kansas City, Missouri USA to take the World title.

Later that year, Stanislaus Zbyszko takes the World Championship for the second time as he defeats Wayne Munn.

And still in another title change, Joe Stecher regains the belt as he defeats Stanislaus Zbyszko in a match at the old Federal League Field in St. Louis.


On February 28th, Ed "Strangler" Lewis defeats Joe Stecher at the Coliseum in St. Louis, taking two out of three falls in just under two and a half hours.


Gus Sonneberg defeats Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Boston.

In the meantime, Dick Shikat defeats Jim Londos in Philadelphia on August 23rd and claims the World title, gaining recognition from the New York and Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissions, who had withdrawn their recognition of Sonneberg.


On June 6th, Jim Londos defeats Dick Shikat in Philadelphia to win the New York and Pennsylvania version of the World title.


Ed Don George defeats Gus Sonnenberg in Boston.

On April 13th, Ed "Strangler" Lewis defeats Ed Don George in Los Angeles.

On May 4th, the "World" title picture became even more confusing as Henri DeGlane defeats Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Montreal on a disqualification where the referee awarded the title to DeGlane. As a result, DeGlane was recognized as the World champ in parts of New England and Canada, while Lewis still claimed the title in other territories.

Later that year, Ed Don George defeats Henri DeGlane in Boston.


On October 10th, Ed "Strangler" Lewis pins Dick Shikat in New York, in a match billed as the "World Championship."


Jim Browning defeats Ed "Strangler" Lewis in New York.


Jim Londos defeats Jim Browning in New York.


On June 27th, Danno O'Mahoney upsets Jim Londos at Boston's Fenway Park to win the New York version of the World title.

On June 30th, Danno O'Mahoney defeats Ed Don George in Boston. Ed Don George had been claiming the title since his 1931 win over Henri DeGlane. By his two victories, O'Mahoney becomes the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.


Dick Shikat defeats Danno O'Mahoney in New York.

Ali Baba defeats Dick Shikat in Detroit.

On June 26th, Everett Marshall defeats Ali Baba in Columbus, Ohio.


On December 29th, Lou Thesz defeats Everett Marshall in St. Louis.


On February 11th, Steve "Crusher" Casey defeats Lou Thesz in Boston.

On September 14th, the National Wrestling Association, at its annual convention in Montreal, decides to recognize Everett Marshall as the new World Champion for two reasons: Steve "Crusher" Casey, the previous champion, is out of the U.S. and nowhere to be found, and Everett Marshall had been disqualified in his bout with Casey because Casey had been thrown out of the ring. The Board of Directors reverse the decision because Marshall's manager, Billy Sandow, points out, "the action was not deliberate."

(to be continued in WAWLI No. 800)

The WAWLI Papers # 800...

NWA HISTORY (continued from WAWLI No. 799)



On February 23rd, Lou Thesz defeats Everett Marshall in St. Louis.

On June 23rd, Former Pro Football Great Bronko Nagurski defeats Lou Thesz in Houston.


On March 7th, Ray Steele defeats Bronko Nagurski in St. Louis.


On March 11th, Bronko Nagurski defeats Ray Steele in Minneapolis.

On June 5th, Sandor Szabo defeats Bronko Nagurski in St. Louis.


On February 19th, "Wild" Bill Longson defeats Sandor Szabo in St. Louis.

On October 7th, Yvon Robert defeats "Wild" Bill Longson in Montreal.

On November 27th, Bobby Managoff defeats Yvon Robert in Houston.


On February 19th, "Wild" Bill Longson defeats Bobby Managoff in St. Louis.


On February 21st, "Whipper" Billy Watson defeats "Wild" Bill Longson in St. Louis.

On April 25th, Lou Thesz defeats "Whipper" Billy Watson in Indianapolis.

On November 21st, "Wild" Bill Longson defeats Lou Thesz in St. Louis.


On July 14th, the National Wrestling Alliance is formed by Professional Wrestling promoters throughout North America in order to avoid stringent U.S. anti-trust laws. Although run as separate "territories," promoters agree to work with each other under the NWA banner. The first President is P.L. "Pinkie" George, while Orville Brown, the reigning Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight champion, is recognized as the first NWA World champion, as the MWA is absorbed into the NWA.

On July 20th, Lou Thesz defeats "Wild" Bill Longson in St.Louis to capture the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title.


On November 1st, Orville Brown is injured in an automobile accident and is forced to retire from the ring, thus relinquishing his claim to the title.

On November 25th, the unification match between Orville Brown and Lou Thesz in St. Louis is cancelled.
Two days later [November 27th], the National Wrestling Alliance awards the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Lou Thesz at its annual convention in St. Louis.

[Note: Over the next few years, Lou Thesz unifies several titles to become the Undisputed World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, as those organizations are absorbed by the NWA.]


On July 27th, Lou Thesz defeats "Gorgeous" George Wagner in Chicago, to merge the old Boston-based American Wrestling Association version of the World title into the NWA World title.


On May 21st, Lou Thesz defeats Baron Michele Leone in Los Angeles, to merge the California version of the world title [also referred to by some historians as the Olympic Auditorium version of the World title] into the NWA World title. The match draws a record $103,277 gate, the first gate of $100,000 or more in U.S. history.


On March 15th, "Whipper" Billy Watson defeats Lou Thesz in Toronto via a count out.

On November 9th, Lou Thesz defeats "Whipper" Billy Watson in St. Louis.


On June 14th, Edouard Carpentier defeats Lou Thesz in Chicago, when Thesz cannot continue due to a back injury. The NWA Board of Directors, however, rule that the title cannot change hands through an injury and gives the belt back to Thesz. Despite the reversed decision, Carpentier remains recognized as World champion in both Omaha and Los Angeles by the World Werstling Association in order to legitimize the lineages of their respective world titles.

On October 7th, Lou Thesz faces Rikidozan, the father of Japanese Professional Wrestling in Tokyo, for the first ever NWA World title match held in Japan. The match ends in a 60-minute time limit draw.

On November 14th, Dick Hutton defeats Lou Thesz in Toronto.


On January 9th, Pat O'Connor defeats Dick Hutton in St. Louis.


On June 30th, "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers defeats Pat O'Connor in Chicago's Comiskey Park.


On August 2nd, Bruno Sammartino is awarded the NWA World title after defeating "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers in Toronto, Ontario Canada, but refuses to accept the strap because Rogers had wrestled with an injury.


On January 24th, Lou Thesz defeats "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers in a one fall contest in Toronto. Promoters in the Northeast U.S., however, refuse to recognize the one-fall decision and form the World Wide Wrestling Federation with Rogers as their first World Heavyweight champion. Rogers would later lose the title to Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden, a rematch of their 1962 Toronto bout. The WWWF would eventually become the World Wrestling Federation [WWF].

On February 7th, Lou Thesz defeats "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers in a return two out of three falls match in Toronto. The result has largely been forgotten in the annals of wrestling history, primarily because of the result of the first match: which was the creation of the WWWF.


On January 7th, Gene Kiniski defeats Lou Thesz in St. Louis.


On February 11th, Dory Funk Jr. defeats Gene Kiniski in Tampa, Florida, USA. For more information on Dory Funk Jr. check out his "Official" home page at

On December 2nd, Dory Funk Jr. wrestles Antonio Inoki to a 60-minute draw, in the first NWA World title match in Japan in 12 years. Inoki's strong showing makes him a international superstar. [Note: A rematch was never held and video tapes of this bout are still sold in Japan].


On March 24th, Harley Race defeats Dory Funk Jr. in Kansas City.

On July 20th, Jack Brisco defeats Harley Race in Houston.


On December 2nd, Giant Baba defeats Jack Brisco in Kagoshima, Japan.

On December 9th, Jack Brisco defeats Giant Baba in Toyohashi, Japan.


On December 10th, Terry Funk defeats Jack Brisco in Miami.


On February 6th, Harley Race defeats Terry Funk in Toronto.


On January 25th, Harley Race wrestles WWWF Champion "Superstar" Billy Graham to a one-hour draw in a best 2-out-of-3 falls contest in Miami's Orange Bowl, each taking one fall with the third going to a draw. The match includes special guest referees Gorilla Monsoon and Eddie Graham.


On August 21st, Dusty Rhodes defeats Harley Race in Tampa.

On August 26th, Harley Race defeats Dusty Rhodes in Orlando.

On October 31st, Giant Baba defeats Harley Race in Nagoya, Japan.

On November 7th, Harley Race defeats Giant Baba in Amagasaki, Japan.


On September 4th, Giant Baba defeats Harley Race in Saga, Japan.

On September 9th, Harley Race defeats Giant Baba in Ohtsu, Japan.


On April 27th, "Wildfire" Tommy Rich defeats Harley Race in Augusta, Georgia, USA.

On May 1st, Harley Race defeats "Wildfire" Tommy Rich in Gainsville, Georgia, USA.

On June 21st, Dusty Rhodes defeats Harley Race in Atlanta.

On September 17th, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair defeats Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City.


On February 9th, The Midnight Rider [Dusty Rhodes] defeats Ric Flair in Tampa, but returns the belt when asked to indentify himself by NWA president Bob Geigel, as it is ruled by the NWA Board of Directors that a masked man cannot wear the championship. Ric Flair continues to be recognized as the champion.

On July 4th, Ric Flair wrestles World Wrestling Federation [WWF] World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund to a 20-minute double disqualification in Atlanta's Omni.


On June 10th, Harley Race defeats Ric Flair in St. Louis.

On November 24th, Ric Flair defeats Harley Race in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.


On March 21st, Harley Race defeats Ric Flair in Wellington, New Zealand.

On March 23rd, Ric Flair defeats Harley Race in Kallang, Singapore.

On May 6th, Kerry von Erich defeats Ric Flair in Irving, Texas, USA.

On May 24th, Ric Flair defeats Kerry von Erich in Yokosuka, Japan.


On October 2nd, Ric Flair wrestles American Wrestling Association [AWA] World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel in a title versus title match in Tokyo. The bout ends in a no decision as both champions are counted out of the ring.


On July 25th, Dusty Rhodes defeats Ric Flair in Greensboro.

On August 7th, Ric Flair defeats Dusty Rhodes in St. Louis.


On September 25th, "Hands of Stone" Ronnie Garvin defeats Ric Flair in Detroit.

On November 26th, Ric Flair defeats Ronnie Garvin in Chicago.


On February 20th, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat defeats Ric Flair in Chicago.

On May 7th, Ric Flair defeats Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat in Nashville.


On July 7th, Sting defeats Ric Flair in Baltimore.


On January 11th, Ric Flair defeats Sting in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. With all but a few of the regional NWA "territories" no longer operating, the title begins to be referred to as the World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight title by WCW television announcers as they make the two names interchangeable.

On March 21st, Tatsumi Fujinami defeats Ric Flair in Tokyo. Although Fujinami is recognized as the only NWA World Heavyweight Champion, the WCW World Heayweight title is given to Flair after the decision was changed by WCW to a disqualification, thus splitting the championship.

On May 19th, Ric Flair defeats Tatsumi Fujinami in St. Petersburg, Florida to re-unify the two belts.

On September 8th, Ric Flair is stripped of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship when he enters the World Wrestling Federation as the "Real World Champion."


On August 12th, Masahiro Chono defeats Rick Rude in Tokyo during the final match of a tournament to fill the vacant NWA title.


On January 4th, the Great Muta defeats Masahiro Chono in Tokyo.

On February 21st, Barry Windham defeats the Great Muta in Ashville, North Carolina, USA.

On July 18th, Ric Flair defeats Barry Windham in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA.

In September, WCW withdraws from the NWA over a dispute revolving around an upcoming Pay-Per-View match between Ric Flair and Rick Rude. The result has the NWA no longer recognizing Ric Flair as its champion and WCW renaming the title the WCW International title.


Despite all the controversy with WCW in 1993, the NWA continues uninterupted as a legal entity, but without national television exposure and holds another tournament for the vacant World Heavyweight title on August 27th. Shane Douglas defeats Too Cold Scorpio in the tournament final in Philadelphia but refuses the belt saying the NWA is a dead organization; Eastern Championship Wrestling immediately announces their withdrawal from the NWA and changes their name to Extreme Championship Wrestling.

On November 19th, Chris Candido defeats Tracy Smothers in yet another tournament final in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA to fill the vacant title.


On February 24th, Dan "the Beast" Severn defeats Chris Candido in Erlanger, Kentucky, USA.


On January 5th, NWA President Howard Brody and NWA Executive Vice President Dennis Coralluzzo show up on WWF TV in New Haven, Connecticut to award the NWA North American title to the winner of a match between Jeff Jarrett and Barry Windham. It marks the return of the NWA to international television for the first time after a nearly five-year absence. Three months later, Dan "the Beast" Severn makes his television debut.


On March 14th, Naoya Ogawa defeats Dan "the Beast" Severn in Yokohama, Japan. The match includes special referee Dory Funk, Jr.

On September 25th, Gary Steele defeats Brian Anthony and Naoya Ogawa in Charlotte, North Carolina, to become the first British native to win the world title.

On October 2nd, Naoya Ogawa defeats Gary Steele in Thomaston, Connecticut.


On July 2nd, Naoya Ogawa vacated the NWA title.

An 8-man single-elimination tournament to crown a new NWA World Champion is scheduled for the Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, FL, on Tuesday, September 19. Dan Severn, Gary Steele, Chris Harris, Kevin Northcutt, Greg Valentine and Joe Malenko are among the entrants.

On September 19th, Mike Rapada defeated Jerry Flynn in the tournament final to become the NWA World Champion.

On November 14th, in Tampa, FL, Sabu defeats Mike Rapada.


The WAWLI Papers No. 801...


Hello Friends,

Most of you know of, or have seen, the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. For those who may not know, the Museum is a history of wrestling from the beginning of time through the amateurs of today, and a special wing is devoted to professional wrestling. To those of you who have
supported the Museum with press or bucks, I am eternally grateful. These few have recognized the importance of the Museum to future generations and future wrestlers.

I have not talked with one person who felt the Museum was not first class and far more than they expected. Now, don’t mistake what I am saying to you -- I am a true capitalist! If this Museum is not important to you -- just forget this message, because I respect your money as much as I do mine. However, if it is important to you for the Musuem to succeed, we need your help. And we need the help of anyone you can enlist.

IWIM has given professional wrestling a place of honor among Olympic and champion amateur wrestlers. Dan Gable is a director on the board, as I am, and he is a supporter of the inclusion of professional wrestling. Some of you may not realize how unpopular this concept was in the amateur community.

Mike and Bev Chapman lost support they could have used by having professional wrestling as such a prominent focus. I know I have a vested interest in the Museum and in the way professional wrestling is portayed to my great grandchildren. (Since my youngest and his wife are expecting their sixth child, I have a large interest!) If this Museum does not succeed, I fear there will never be another with the courage to show respect for professional wrestling as anything more than entertainment.

I am asking you to help in any way you can -- $5 -$10 -- any amount—or spreading the word about fan clubs or fan organizations meeting there for conventions, or if you have any suggestions of contacts in large corporations who might want to sponsor a gallery or exhibit. The boxing community has a vested interest also. The memorial to Rocky Marciano is there (he died about two miles from the site of the Museum). I am not one to beg, especially for someone’s hard-earned money, but I want everyone to have an opportunity to contribute to a cause that may be important to you. I know so many times I learn too late about a crisis to be of any help.

I know the devoted fans are out there because I have them on the forums and Email me all the time (now I wish I had saved their addresses.) Please help me get the word out to anyone who would want to help.

Email me if you have any questions, suggestions, or need to get the Museum address.


Lou Thesz


(, September 5, 2000)

Scott Teal:

You mention the match between Cyclone Negro and Dory Funk Sr. I'm curious to know if you were there to see it.

Cyclone is still alive and living in Tampa, Florida. I recently received a letter from Charlotte Mijares, formerly known as Charlotte Carbone. Charlotte was one of the promoters of wrestling in San Antonio, along with Joe Blanchard. She is now married to Omar Atlas.

For those of you who might be interested, Charlotte recently authored a book called "Blood, Sweat and Cheers," a fictional novel centering around the pro wrestling world. I just got my copy and have begun reading it. I'll have more info ASAP for everyone soon.

Back to Cyclone Negro ... here's a letter Charlotte sent to me recently regarding Cyclone.

Thanks so much for sending Cyclone Negro's number. We have been looking for him for years ... and it seems that he's been tryingto find Omar (Atlas), as well. Omar called him last night and they talked for about 45 minutes. Cyclone and his wife are coming to San Antonio sometime this summer to see us.

It was funny. Neither of them can hear worth a poop. Omar is now 63, Cyclone is 68, and it's obvious that they've both taken a few too many head butts. The entire phone call was punctuated with, "What?" "What?" "What?" When Omar got off the phone, he said, "Cyclone can't hear well at all." I said, "Welcome to my world."

Anyway, Omar wanted me to thank you VERY MUCH for providing the number. It really made his day.



Date: 9/5/00

Hello Friends . . . Some years ago, pre computers . . . I sent letters around on behalf of my good friend and Ex lady wrestler "Betty Jo Hawkins" . . . who was in dire need of financial help . . . many of you responded and she was able to spend the last 4 years of her life "very happy" . . . this was '87 . . .

ONCE again . . . I am here on behalf of another Ex girl wrestler whom I KNOW you have heard of "NELL STEWART" . . . from what I hear, she was called the Betty Grable of women wrestlers in her day . . . Nell is from just outside of Birmingham, Alabama . . . and began her wrestling career in the late '40s . . . None of us know the whys of the the path we are meant to follow . . . but . . . this has happened to Nell . . . and the Lord has chosen to have her spend her "hell" on earth with deadly Throat Cancer (she has been living with it now for almost a year) . . . Ida May Martinez called me yesterday telling me that after speaking to Nell's doctor, Nell has maybe two months to live . . . They have moved her to live with her niece since she is unable to care for herself . . . She weighs less than 100 pounds . . . and tumors are spreading very fast . . . and there is no money for when her final day comes . . . for burial expenses . . . and other medical needs . . .

I realize, there are many many people in dire need also and hopefully we can help them, too . . . THIS, Ida and I are doing for "one of us" . . . We are asking donations in any amount you may have to spare. So far I have collected $25 . . . $20 . . . $125 . . .


% Penny Banner
PO BOX 473362
CHARLOTTE, N.C. 28247-3362

P.S. -- We can make a difference . . . Thank you and GOD BLESS YOU . . . PLEASE PASS THE WORD to anyone you know without a computer that is not getting this message . . .


(August 20, 2000)

By Buck Woodward

Tony Parisi, former WWWF Tag Team Champion with Gino Brito, passed away yesterday of a heart attack in Niagara Falls. He was 58.

Parisi, who also wrestled as Tony Pugliese, was retired from the ring, and owned a hotel and restaurant in Canada, and also promoted wrestling shows. He was also involved in WCW's Ilio DiPaulo benefit show, which was run for several years in Buffalo.

By Greg Oliver, SLAM! Wrestling

One of the Italian-Canadian wrestling greats, Tony 'Cannonball' Parisi, has passed away.

He died Saturday, August 19, 2000 of a heart attack in his hometown of Niagara Falls, Ontario, at the coffee shop that he went to every morning. He was 58.

Parisi is best known to today's fan for his hotel and restaurant in Niagara Falls, the annual legends show in Buffalo, and for running the annual wrestling shows at the CHIN Picnic over the Canada Day long weekend at Toronto's CNE grounds.

Born in Cosenza, Italy in 1941, Parisi immigrated to Canada with his family in the 1950s.

"He came here in search of a better life for his family," said family member Luciano Butera.

(For the complete article, check out the remarkable SLAM! Wrestling site --


(Carolina Morning News, Sunday, September 3, 2000)

By William Wachsberger

TUCSON, Ariz. -- "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. Sean O'Haire.

So what's in a name?

Flair, Austin and Hogan are some of the marquee names in professional wrestling history. O'Haire might just be on his way to becoming one.

O'Haire, 28, has quickly become a professional wrestling star for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling, home to such names as former Atlanta Falcon Bill Goldberg, Sting and "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash.

The former owner of Breakthrough Fitness Center on Hilton Head Island broke into main event matches only six months after he started wrestling school. No one has ever progressed that fast, not even Goldberg, who is one of the main characters in the organization and made the transition in eight months.

What made the Hilton Head High School graduate get into the wrestling biz?

"I always wanted to do it," he said a few hours prior to taping "WCW Thunder" on Tuesday from the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Ariz.

O'Haire has always been athletic. He trained in gymnastics, kickboxing and submission shootfighting (a combination of kickboxing and wrestling.)

"He worked out almost every day," said Matt Kuhlmann of Atlanta, one of O'Haire's best friends growing up on Hilton Head.

Kuhlmann, who tried his hand in pro wrestling on the independent circuit for a brief time in the mid-1990s, said he and O'Haire were inseparable.

"Once, when Sean was still living at home, he redid his bedroom. All that was in there was a mattress and he made the room a working dojo where he and I would work out and make videos of us working out," said Kuhlmann.

Kuhlmann added that O'Haire was always into martial arts. He even taught classes at Breakthrough Fitness Center on occasion, said manager John Campbell.

"I saw him teach martial arts once, and Sean was just tremendous," said his former workout partner Alan Edwardo, owner of Flying Iron Cycles on Hilton Head Island and a former Beaufort County sheriff's deputy.

After coming up with the concept of Breakthrough Fitness Center, O'Haire was eventually bought out by his partners and left the Lowcountry to pursue other interests.

"Wrestling is the best thing for him; he became claustrophobic on Hilton Head," said Campbell.

He spent time in North Carolina, where he won 17 Toughman competitions before heading north to New York to become a professional boxer. It was while there he called his childhood friend Kuhlmann.

O'Haire was not satisfied in the Toughman competitions, Kuhlmann said, and he was still a young guy "who didn't want his brains beat in during a boxing match."

So O'Haire asked Kuhlmann if he still had some connections in the wrestling business. Kuhlmann had worked for such performers as Sting, Flair and Lex Luger. Luger and Sting co-owned Main Event Fitness in the Atlanta metro area while Flair owned a Gold's Gym in Charlotte.

Kuhlmann gave O'Haire some leads, and in November 1999 O'Haire packed his bags and headed to Atlanta to join the Power Plant, WCW's wrestling school, which started in January.

"The training was extremely rigorous. At times we (the students) had to do 1,000 squats and 500 push-ups and then go in the ring to wrestle."

O'Haire was a walk-in student with no experience on the independent circuit, unlike some of his fellow classmates.

"One of the reasons I felt I was going to excel was because of my kickfighting experience ... I was able to kick high and flip in the air thanks to my gymnastic experience. The instructors saw something they can work with."

O'Haire said he could not have succeeded without the guidance of fellow classmate and tag team partner, Mark Jindrak, 23, of Auburn, N.Y., and former wrestlers Mike Graham and Paul Orndorff.

"This kid was a winner 15 minutes into his tryout. He had a look about him, experience in martial arts and knew his way around the mat," Orndorff said.

Still training at the Power Plant, Jindrak and O'Haire decided to form a tag team while touring Nashville on the independent -- or non-WCW -- circuit.

"Then one night we were wrestling and Vince Russo (WCW's creative director) came to see us in Nashville and he sat down with us and we told him what we do," Jindrak said.

Russo put the team in a match for WCW's syndicated program, "WCW Worldwide," and was impressed with the rookies.

"He told us we looked like brothers and complement each other real well. Then he said we were going on 'Nitro.' (Only a few months ago) we were in training and now we're in the show," Jindrak said.

So, on June 26, Jindrak's birthday, the unknown rookies were placed in a tag team contest against two of the company's more established stars - Juventud Guerrera and Rey Misterio Jr. That night, the rookies won.

Professional wrestling has become more mainstream over the past few years with newer and different personalities like Jeff Jarrett, Booker T and "The Rock." Russo has taken WCW, known for legends like Hogan, Flair and "Diamond" Dallas Page, and turned the tables by bringing in what he calls "The New Blood."

Russo hopes that O'Haire, along with Jindrak and other graduates of the Power Plant, will make WCW more popular than the juggernaut World Wrestling Federation, an organization that Russo once wrote for.

Being on television twice a week and involved in a major storyline has changed O'Haire's life.

"I was in a Wendy's in Charlotte one day and went to order my food and everyone behind the counter knew me. Then people wanted my autograph. It happens when I go to catch a movie, too. It embarrasses me because I feel I don't deserve this," he said.

Since arriving in WCW, not many folks in the Lowcountry have had a chance to see his face on television.

"I've known Sean and his family for some 20 years. I knew he did a stint in boxing but didn't know he went on to wrestling," said Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples. "I'm not a big wrestling fan, but I am going to check him out."

Orndorff, speaking as if he were a proud father, said, "Sean's athletic ability, his physical and mental condition, everything about him ... he is way ahead of schedule and I know he is going to be a huge name in this business."

The WAWLI Papers No. 802...


(Dallas Morning News, September 3, 2000)

By Dave Tarrant

He wore a bulletproof vest because of threats on his life. He was ambushed by mobs throwing sticks and rocks. His tires were slashed, his windshield shattered, and he was in more car chases than Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon.

And that's just what happened outside the ring. Skandor Akbar, as the wrestling magazines of the 1970s and 1980s often proclaimed, was "The Man You Loved to Hate."

And the more you hated him, the more he loved it.

"Wrestling is good and evil," he was fond of saying, "and I'm the evil part."

Long before today's cartoonish villains, he was one of wrestling's arch bad guys. During the gas shortages of the 1970s, he was a self-proclaimed oil-wealthy sheik, who taunted fans weary of long lines at service stations. Amid the Gulf War, he swaggered around ringside in a khaki uniform like a certain Iraqi dictator.

Being such a great bad guy forced him to erect a shield over his private life. He did so not only to protect himself and his family, but also to maintain his mystique with fans. And that practice became habitual over the years.

He's still slow to open up and let people know the other guy - not the wrestler, but the man outside of the ring. The man who has lived in the same suburban Dallas neighborhood for 31 years but knows almost nobody on his block. The man whose wife once told him that he'd been engulfed by his wrestling persona.

"I kept my private life apart," he says, matter-of-factly. "I was like two people."

Wrestling, Skandor says, comes down to this: There are dragons and dragon slayers.

Skandor was a dragon, the archetypal villain, who must be vanquished by the dragon slayer so order can be restored to the world. Later in his career, as a manager, it was his job to find dragons to feed the dragon slayers.

"That's how I explain my world to people: dragons and dragon slayers."

Wrestling is different now from when he started nearly 40 years ago. It's not about good vs. evil anymore.

"See, today it's hard to determine who's bad and who's good. And so you have what I call purgatory fans - they're in between. They cheer for everybody."

In his day, bad guys didn't have fans.

"I never had any. Not that I know of. I'd rather it be that way. And it was risky in those days. People bashing your car windows, cutting your tires. That'll never happen today. It's changed now."

It wasn't only wrestling fans who hated him. Members of the Arab community, including some of his relatives, didn't much care for his caricature either, he says.

He paid them scant attention. He generated heat -- the concentrated wrath of fans -- that is the red meat of wrestling.

With hyperventilating exuberance, Skandor's manager once boasted to Ring, a wrestling magazine, that "Skandor Akbar is a man from the same mold as I am! He'll bite, stomp, kick, chew or even spit at his mother if it will help him come up with a victory."

Now 65, he still looks like he could throw someone into the second row. At 5-foot-9, he has the compact, powerful build of an NFL fullback. He pumps iron every morning in his garage, and he's "pretty close," he says, to the 56-inch chest, 19 1/2-inch biceps and 27-inch thighs that he used to hurl hapless opponents around the ring.

He keeps his thick black mane the same color it was back then, too, as well as his goatee.

He's been married three times but lives alone now. He books wrestling events with an outfit out of East Texas called Superstars of Wrestling. He works the small towns where wrestling's big name acts will never appear except on television. He runs a wrestling school at Doug's Gym in Dallas and manages youngsters with big dreams as well as grizzled old-timers like Greg Valentine and The One Man Gang.

He still plays the character he invented 35 years ago, strutting outside the ring taunting fans, never mixing with them, always maintaining what he calls his "mystique."

"That's what I learned a long time ago. You don't mingle with the fans," he says.

"So many of the young wrestlers in this business will get out and mingle with people after the show and put their arms around them. And those people will go home and say, 'Aw, he's a good ol' boy.'

"But they've never said that about Akbar. I guarantee it. You can ask around Dallas. They never knew anything about me."

His real name is Jimmy Saied Wehba. He was born Sept. 29, 1934, in Wichita Falls, Texas. He grew up in nearby Vernon, although at various times throughout his career, he would say he moved here from Lebanon, Syria or Saudi Arabia.

His father, Saied Wehba, did emmigrate from Lebanon and settled near relatives in the Texas Panhandle, where he worked as a grocer. His mother, Mary Edd, also of Arab ancestry, was born in Texas. Jimmy was the youngest of three kids, and his two older sisters doted on him.

At 12, he started lifting weights, spurred by his cousin Doug Eidd, now the proprietor of Doug's Gym. Mr. Eidd was in the Army and en route to Korea when he stopped by his cousin's house and gave him a few weightlifting lessons. Eventually Jimmy could bench-press 500 pounds.

Two of his uncles were also professional wrestlers. One called himself the "Sheik." Young Jimmy went to some matches and found his calling.

This was the late 1950s and early 1960s, the golden era of wrestling. He started out with one of the great legends of that era, Lou Thesz, who knew Jimmy's uncles.

In those days, the country was divided into wrestling territories. The way for a young man to get experience was to go from one territory to the next. This was before Jimmy wrestled under the name of Skandor Akbar. But he was often cast as a villain, or "heel," in wrestling parlance, he says.

"You were typecast a lot in those days. Naturally I was a heel because I was this big, dark-complected guy. Sometimes I wrestled as a clean guy. But the villain was my thing. I tried to be a good guy, but people just didn't like it," he says, chuckling.

In 1966, Fritz Von Erich, the patriarch of the Von Erich wrestling clan in Dallas, suggested he change his name to something that sounded more Arabic. "Then I became Skandor Akbar, which means Alexander the Great."

He was now the "hated Akbar," whose adversary was often Danny Hodge, an Olympic silver medalist and popular "good guy" in the Oklahoma circuit. Later, he "went to war" against the Von Erichs, when the clan was the main draw in Dallas.

The only time he recalls being a fan favorite came during a brief period in 1967. "I went in and saved Danny Hodge from a beating with the Assassins. They had him upside down on the turnbuckle, double-kicking him, the whole works. I don't know what came over me, but I saved Danny. I became the fan favorite for a few months."

The business was a grind, six days a week, a different city everyday. Almost every town had its crowd favorite or "baby face." Skandor often car pooled with the other heels on the circuit, driving one of the dozen Pontiac Bonnevilles he's owned.

"During these trips you could go over different moves you could do. That's how you sharpened up."

To achieve longevity he had to create a personality. That meant engaging in the loud-mouthed, in-your-face finger-pointing, face-contorting, gorilla theater that is an essential part of wrestling show interviews.

"I watched the best, and then I would get by myself and get in front of a mirror and scrunch up my face," he says.

"There are guys who've been in this business for years and years who have never learned to do the interviews. I could make a two-minute interview and never stumble. But I worked on it. It didn't come naturally."

Another key to success was learning crowd psychology, which Skandor defines as "total control over the people."

"Some guys have it, and some guys don't. You have to be alert and pay attention. You can bring the crowd up and bring them down and then bring them up again."

You never, ever give in to the crowd, he says.

"Maybe you have somebody in a hold and you hear people starting to chant, 'boring, boring,' like they do sometimes. I tell my man in the ring, 'You just clamp down harder on that hold. Don't let the crowd get to you. You dictate to them. Don't let them dictate to you.' "

Skandor never let audiences become bored.

"I was always doing something dastardly. They didn't know when I was going to do it."

He would hurl fire at his opponents, choke them on the ropes and dispatch them with his signature "Camel Clutch," in which he'd grab an opponent's chin from behind and pull his head backward.

He knew all the tricks of the trade.

"I could take a guy right now and bust him open. There's a way you do it. You come right down on a sloping angle and bust that eyebrow. But if you don't know how to do it, the poor guy's head'll swell up."

"I did everything. I hid foreign objects, bolts and things like that. Usually I hit in the neck. Sometimes I'd hit in the head."

His opponents often reciprocated in kind. "They'd hit me with something too. But in those days we didn't mind that. We didn't mind blood coming down our faces. We made money."

He wrestled all over the world and especially in Asia and Australia. He was in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan. "It was just beautiful."

In 1974 he won the National Wrestling Alliance's North American Heavyweight Title Belt. About 1977, he retired from full-time wrestling and began managing other heels. He added "General" to his name and took on colorful heels such as Kimala, the Ugandan Giant. By the end of the 1980s, after nearly 30 years in wrestling, Skandor's persona was set in concrete. In a 1987 story in All Pro Wrestling, Skandor was described as "one of the most hated and feared [wrestlers] in the sport."

He was quoted as saying: "I'm never worried about anything. My family is rich, and I am rich. And I can buy anything I want, so why should I be something I don't want to be, like one of those sissy good guys."


Jimmy Wehba of Vernon had successfully created a monster. And as with Dr. Frankenstein, he had to live with it.

He is showing a visitor around his Garland home, a two-story house, with red-brick siding, bought in 1969.

He lives alone and his only companions are a cat and a dog, both rescued strays.

He doesn't use the kitchen or dining room. He eats all his meals in restaurants and seldom goes upstairs. There are assorted family photos on an upright piano in one room, but no wrestling memorabilia is displayed. He keeps stacks of old wrestling magazines with stories about himself in the closet.

He walks stiffly now and with a slight limp from old wrestling injuries.

"I've got a bad right knee, a degenerative area on my left side," he says, settling into his favorite stuffed chair in the living room, where he likes to watch "the tube" during the day.

He was injured in Jackson, Miss., during a tag-team match that got out of hand. "They got a great big board, and they were whacking me and a guy named Rocket Monroe. Sometimes I still feel it across my arm here. It chipped my elbow."

Another night, after he turned against his tag-team partner Danny Hodge, he got ambushed by some fans.

"These people sent me a note to come by this club. Out of curiosity, I went there. I walked in and these people started whacking me with cue sticks. They were just punks. I knew how to take care of myself. They got in a car and drove away. I didn't realize my head was bleeding profusely. See they hit me across here," he says pointing to a scar at his forehead.

"I got a lot of scars."

He got hit in the head with a rock while walking down the aisle in Boston Garden. In Russellville, Ark., fans threw rocks and sticks at him and a friend as they ran to his car. Other times, he found his car windows smashed or his tires slashed.

And there was that time he had to wear a bulletproof vest. It was in 1985 in the Superdome in New Orleans. The week before in Jackson, Miss., Skandor was managing Kimala and had interfered with the match by throwing a fireball at Kimala's opponent, a guy named Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

This well-publicized act prompted 30,000 fans to turn out for a rematch in the Superdome. When Skandor arrived in the locker room, he was met by New Orleans Police Department officers informing him that there had been 14 calls to the Superdome threatening his life.

"Either you wear this bulletproof vest tonight or you don't go on," he quotes an officer telling him.

He wore the vest underneath his robe and nothing happened.

But he always watched his back.

"I had to be careful where I ate," he says, adding that he did the same thing as a manager. "I never let anybody see Kimala. We'd pick up our food and eat in the hotel."

People tried to follow him home as he drove away from the Sportatorium in Dallas. "I'd have to lose them. I didn't want anybody to bother my house and my family. That's why I kept my personal life so quiet."

He has one son, Darryl, from his first marriage. He got his first divorce when Darryl was still an infant.

Darryl Wehba, 37, lives in Duncan, Okla., where he grew up. He is married and has an infant son of his own. Darryl recalls watching his father on television and occasionally live.

"When I was real young growing up, he wasn't around much. But I simply adored him. I was his biggest fan. He never missed a Christmas or a birthday. Sometimes he couldn't be there right on my birthday, but he'd come a little later."

When Darryl dreamed of wrestling, however, his father discouraged him. "He didn't want to see me get into it. He knows you can't hold down a family."

A construction worker, Darryl says he doesn't begrudge his father's absence. "He played his part so well. He was the ultimate bad guy. As far as everybody else knew, he was from the Middle East. He knew how to get people riled up. That's what they thrive on. That's what kept them people coming back."

Skandor was married to his second wife, Doris, for 18 years before she died suddenly of kidney failure. He married his third wife, Peggy, in 1989, and "by mutual agreement," they were divorced last year, he says.

Peggy once told him that she thought he had trouble separating his public and private lives, he says. "I think she felt like this thing had engulfed me," he says.

"To an extent, yeah, I guess it did," he says. "I've really tried to amend things like that. When I was in my heyday, I'd always have that scowling look on my face."

Like an actor associated with one part, or an old spouse who can't imagine life without the partner, he accepts his life.

"Probably me being in professional wrestling for so many years, my personal life was sacrificed. [Wrestling] was such a different kind of thing. It just kind of ruined my personal life so much."

Over time, he says, "Akbar took over the Jimmy part.

"When people call me Jim or Jimmy it's a surprise to me. They call me 'Ak' or 'Akbar' or 'General.' "

Probably the person he is closest to is his 10-year-old stepgranddaughter, Kaylie, who lives in Garland. She calls him "Doe," a variation on the Arabic word for grandfather.

Kaylie was born two months prematurely. "She was so small I could hold her in the palm of my hand," Skandor says. "I guess we bonded right then."

He likes to take Kaylie out once or twice a week for dinner. When he was sick recently with a cold, she made him colorful get-well cards, which are still taped to his refrigerator.

"He loves me and he protects me," she says of her grandfather one evening at Ryan's, their favorite restaurant in Garland. Later, at his house, she kids him while looking through some old wrestling magazines he has brought out of the closet.

The magazines seem to stir the old embers.

"I'd do it all over," he says. "I'd relish it like a good meal. I'd gobble it all down. If they opened the Sportatorium today, I could walk down that aisle, and I would still have a lot of heat.

"I still love the business. One thing I'm so proud of, it's like an epitaph for me. I was always true. I was always straight down the line."

Kaylie holds up a magazine. "What were you doing here?" she demands. "Biting his head?"

He gives her a sheepish smile and puts on his glasses to take a closer look. "Hmmm. That looks like Terry Taylor," he says to himself.

"Did you win?" Kaylie asks.

He nods his head.


(Miami Herald, Monday, August 28, 2000)

By Jim Varsallone

Shawn Ambrosino, also known as Dow Jones from the Florida indy tag team the Market Crashers, will fly to Dallas on Sept. 8 for a tryout with the Texas-based XFL team.

The XFL is the new pro football league under the auspices of the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. and NBC television. The league begins play in 2001.

Ambrosino, a defensive tackle, competed in the early 1990s for the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He filled out a form on the XFL web site [through] for interested football players and received an invitation to try out .


(The Diamondback, University of Maryland, Sept. 6, 2000)

By Alec Melman

(U-WIRE) COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The words "pro wrestler" carry a certain stigma. They conjure up images of The Rock and Hulk Hogan and sweaty men screaming at audiences seconds before they unwittingly meet the backside of a folding chair.

Professional wrestlers combine sport and show. To become one is not easy; yet one student on the University of Maryland campus has done so.

Measuring a mere 5-foot-5 and a thick 165 pounds, Rich Frieman, a senior graphic design major, certainly doesn't fit the mold of a pro wrestler -- but that hasn't stopped him.

Frieman, who is Jewish and goes by the stage name of "Buster Maccabi," said that despite his size he is completely devoted to realizing his childhood dream.

"It's fun as hell," Frieman said. "Wrestling makes me a combination of action hero, cartoon character and movie star wrapped into one."

The 21-year-old Baltimore native wrestled for seven years as an amateur, four of those with the Owings Mills High School team, before going pro in May. He now competes in the All-American Wrestling Federation.

Frieman, who has a well-defined and built physique, works out at the gym regularly to help compensate for his height, and can definitely hold his own in the ring. Although the AAWF is local, with matches and training in Baltimore, it is the final stepping stone before national recognition. Each match is scouted by larger pro circuits; however, it can take years before crossing that final hurdle.

Much like televised wrestling, Frieman's alias Buster Maccabi is complete with a flashy costume and a memorable attitude. Maccabi dons sunglasses, baggy leopard print pants with matching vest and a smile that flows with confidence.

"I almost got laughed out of the locker room when I first unveiled my costume, but I made an impression on the audience," Frieman said. "Wrestling is all about having an edge. People are going to remember me."

Frieman has enjoyed painting, sculpting and drawing for as long as he's wrestled. He plans his wrestling schedule so it doesn't interfere with his classes. Balancing his time is hectic enough as it is, but Frieman must also reserve space for his girlfriend, who has her doubts about his wrestling endeavors, but is generally supportive.

"It's not her favorite thing, but she has faith in me," Frieman said. "She just doesn't like seeing me get smacked up."

Contrary to popular belief, the wrestling ring can be dangerous. Frieman has never needed the hospital, but he leaves each fight bruised. It might be "fake," but the marks on his body indicate that a very real fight took place.

"It can get personal in the ring, but you have to remember the other guy has a family," Frieman said. "You don't need to kill someone to put on a good show."

After a match, Maccabi happily obliges children with autographs, and is $50-$75 richer before stepping into his car to return to his alter-ego, Rich Frieman.

Frieman set a goal for himself at a young age, and more than a decade later, his perseverance has brought him within striking distance of completing his dream.

Buster Maccabi's next match is Friday night at the Pikesville Armory in Baltimore and he is the main event September 23rd.


By Steve Yohe and John Williams

Real Name: Frank Sexton

Nickname or Aliases; Frank "Powerhouse" Sexton, Masked Marvel #2, The Black Panther, "The Sedalia Cyclone"

BORN: 1914, Sedalia, Ohio (1912 ?)

Death: Early 1990s

Height: 6 feet, 2 inches

Weight: 235 pounds

Signature Moves: Giant Swing, Body Scissors, Headlock



Frank Sexton was born in 1914 into a family of 10 sons and one daughter that lived on a farm near Sedalia, Ohio. He followed his brother Leo, a Captain on the wrestling team, to Ohio State University in 1931 where Frank played football, baseball and wrestled. The nickname "Powerhouse" was given to him in high school and would follow him to college and through out his pro career. He worked a few local wrestling cards and carnival shows during these years, which this led to leaving school early in 1932 to turn pro.

In 1933 he wrestled for Al Half's Ohio promotion. His first known match was on Feb. 15, 1933 against Karl Davis. Like all rookie wrestlers, he won and lost his share of matches. He had his first major match on Nov. 28, 1935 against Everett Marshall in Canton, OH. Even thought he lost, his good looks and classical style led to a better push and bigger matches. Sexton had his first World Title match on June 1, 1936, going to a draw against versus Ali Baba in Detroit. That year he had at least five matches against world title claimant Marshall, losing all five times.

At the end of 1936 and into the first half of 1937,Sexton worked in New York losing to top stars such as Jim McMillen and Dick Shikat. Later in the year he would move onto working the Houston and St. Louis areas. During this period Sexton wrestled seven times against his future rival for World Championship honors, Lou Thesz. Like the Marshall matches, Sexton would lost all seven of the matches against Thesz in this period. But his reputation and popularity were growing, his set backs became limited to the elite performers like Marshall, Thesz and Ed Don George. By the end of 1938 and into 1939, Sexton returned to the Ohio area for matches with top stars John Pesek and Orville Brown. On Nov. 13, 1939 in Cleveland, he had one of his first major successes by beating Bill Longson. Throughout 1940 he gained experience meeting many of the top stars in the sport such as Thesz, Rudy Dusek, Joe Savoldi, Ray Villmer and World Champions Ray Steele, Bronko Nagurski and Jim Londos. While getting pushed into top matches wasn't a problem, getting wins in those matches was.

In 1941 Sexton traveled to Northern California and got the major push he had been looking for by donning a mask and calling himself The Black Panther. On March 21, 1941 in Oakland he defeated Bobby Managoff for the Pacific Coast Title. Title defenses over Ivan Rasputin, Man Mountain Dean, and the former undisputed champ Danno O'Mahoney followed as well as two draws with soon to be National Wrestling Association champion Sandor Szabo. On June 3, 1941 The Black Panther lost his title and his mask to Bobby Managoff via COR when Sexton got his leg stuck in the ring ropes. July 1, 1941 saw Sexton regain the Pacific Coast Title from the new champ Bill Longson. He would defend the title against Ed Don George on Aug. 5, 1941, before losing the title and then regaining the title from Longson on Aug. 9, 1941 and Aug. 23, 1941. On Sept. 9, 1941 he went to a sixty minute draw with Sandor Szabo for the National Wrestling Association World Title in San Francisco. Sexton would do another title turnaround on 10-7-41 and 11- 4-41, this time with Jim Casey. Sexton would them hold the Pacific Coast Title until Oct. 12, 1943, when he lost it to Dean Detton at San Francisco. This was the second longest title reign in the twenty-five year history of what was the top title in Northern California prior to Roy Shire taking over the territory and creating the San Francisco version of the United States Title. During this reign Sexton defeated the likes of Szabo, O'Mahoney, Longson, Mike Mazurki, Don McIntyre, Cy Williams, Savoldi, George Zaharias, and even the legendary Ed "Stranger" Lewis.

In 1944 Sexton moved his home base to New England and Canada under the direction of long time Boston promoter Paul Bowser. He became nearly unbeatable. He would twice wrestled National Wrestling Association World Champion Bill Longson to a draws. On July 19, 1944 he defeated Yvon Roberts to win the Montreal version of the World Title, losing it back to Roberts on Aug. 23. In the Toronto territory he exchanged wins with British Empire Champion Billy Watson, taking a non-title match on Sept. 23 and losing that rematch Oct. 26 with the title on the line. He ran off a strong of victories over the likes of former world champions Bobby Managoff and Ed Lewis, along with wins over other top stars such as Earl McCready, Frank Judson, Hams Kampfer, Leo Numa, Roy Graham and Karl Davis.

On May 21, 1945 Frank Sexton pinned old rival Sandor Szabo to win the AWA World Title at Buffalo, NY. The line of the AWA World Title traced back into the main line of the World Title first through Henri Deglane's controversial May 4, 1931 win over Ed Lewis, and later through Lou Thesz's loss to Steve Casey in Boston on Feb. 11, 1938 that ended Thesz's first world title reign. Many people, not only those who lived New England but also those who believed that title should be won and lost in the ring, considered the AWA World Title was the legitimate World Title over Bill Longson's National Wrestling Association Title and Jim Londos' long standing world title claim. The title also had the prestige of the belt worn by Ed "Stranger" Lewis in the early 1920's.

Two weeks after winning the title, Sexton dropped the title to Steve Casey on June 6 in Boston. It marked Casey's sixth reign with the title he dominated for seven years as the number one star in New England. The two would be rematched on June 27, 1945, and this time the torch would be passed for good as Sexton regained the title from Casey. This time Sexton would hold the belt almost five years straight, one of the longest title major world title reigns in pro wrestling history. Sexton also would raise the title's prominence on a national level by promising to "meet anyone, anytime, anywhere on a winner-take-all basis with his title on the line". In the post-war era where Title vs. Title and Champion vs. Champion became common, no wrestler showed more willingness to meet his rival claimants than Sexton:

* On Oct. 4, 1945 Sexton defeated British Empire Champion Whipper Billy Watson in Toronto.

* On Jan. 10, 1946 Sexton and National Wrestling Association Champion Bill Longson in a title unification match in Toronto that went to a 58 minute curfew draw. The card was promoter Frank Tunney's first card.

* On Jan. 29, 1946 Sexton beat Babe Sharkey in Baltimore in a title unification match. As Sharkey was recognized as World Champion in Maryland and other east coast states, the win greatly increased Sexton's recognition in the East as the World Champion.

* On March 27, 1947 in Long Beach, CA, Sexton defeated Sandor Szabo, who was recognized as NWA World Champ in Minneapolis. Only Sexton's title was on the line.

* On April 2, 1947 Sexton wrestled to a draw in Los Angles against the California World Champion, Enrique Torres.

* Sexton and Torres would be rematched again on December 18, 1947 in another unification match in Los Angeles, once again drawing. The card was also noted for the debuted of Gorgeous George at the Olympic Auditorium.

* On October 2, 1948 in Los Angles, Sexton and National Wrestling Association World Champion Lou Thesz wrestled to a draw in a unification match.

* On November 30, 1948 in Minneapolis, Sexton and NWA (Minneapolis) World Champ Cliff Gustafson wrestled to a one hour draw, with Sexton being given the win via decision.

* Sexton and Gustafson would wrestle another unification match on December 21, 1948, once again going to a draw. Long time Minneapolis promoter Tony Stecher called Sexton "the best of the lot" of various world title claimants at the time.

* On March 15, 1949 in Cleveland, OH, Sexton wrestled to a one hour and forty-five minute title unification draw with the first National Wrestling Alliance World Champion, Orville Brown.

During his reign, Sexton also piled up wins across the country against top stars such as Dean Detton, Steve Casey, Earl McCready, Buddy Rogers, Maurice " The French Angel" Tillet, Bronko Nagurski, and Gorgeous George. On June 27, 1947 he defended his title against the biggest box office star of 1947, former boxing World Heavyweight Champion Primo Carnera, in an outdoor match in Washington, DC that was stopped early due to rain. After retaining his title over Casey on February 20, 1948 in in St. Louis, promoter Sam Muchnick rated Sexton as the man "generally accepted as world champ."

During the first three months of 1950, Sexton traveled to Paris, France to defend to AWA World Title. He defeated Ivar Martinson (1-6-50), Henri DeGlane (1-13-50) and Felix Miquet (3-28-50). Frank also wrestled a draw with the feared Bert Assirati (2-15-50). Frank Sexton was one of the few World Champions to defend his title in Europe.

Sexton nearly five year reign with the AWA Title ended on May 23, 1950 when twenty-three year-old Don Eagle took a clean two out of three falls in Cleveland loss. Four days after Don Eagle's win, he was "lost" his title in a match with in a match with Gorgeous George in which the finish may have been a double cross by promoters. George promptly did a COR job to National Wrestling Alliance Champion Lou Thesz on July 27, 1950 without the AWA title even being mentioned in the build up of the match. But all that is remembered to the public was that Thesz beat the AWA champ. The Gorgeous one would drop the title back to Eagle on August 31, 1950, but the damage remained permeate. The AWA title would live on until 1953, but without a champion like Sexton it's prestige was never the same.

Sexton would return to Europe in 1951, being billed there as World Champion. His last known loss was to Felix Miquet on Jan. 22, 1951 in Paris. During 1952 through 1954, he did most of his wrestling in France, South Africa and Germany, foreshadowing the international touring that Lou Thesz would do later in the decade after dropping the NWA World Title to Dick Hutton. After 11 draws over five years, Sexton finally pinned Primo Carnera on May 12, 1952 in Paris. He worked a few matches in the U.S. during 1955 and 1956, but only a draw with Killer Kowalski at Rochester on January 23, 1956 would be considered notable today. He retired after a March 15, 1956 match against Roy McClarity. The one time he ever came out of retirement was for a March 5, 1965 match in Buffalo where he pinned Moose Cholak in 14 minutes. Frank Sexton died in the early ‘90s.

Sexton's got over during the ‘40s due to his image of a classical wrestler and his good looks. His career also was aided by the fact that he avoided being drafted during World War II. It's believed that he was a capable wrestler in the gym but probably not one of the major hookers. The consensus among those that saw him or worked with him was that he was a fine worker and a class act. He was a major box office attraction in every area that he wrestled in, which would include New England, Northern and Southern California, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Montreal, Toronto and Paris. His world title reign remains one of the greatest in pro wrestling history as he met every major performer and rival champion, and held enough stature and respect with them and promoters across the country that he came through all of the matches with his title still comfortably around his waist. The respect he had in the profession was shown by the fact that while he was never double crossed during his five year reign, his successor was allegedly double crossed for the title only four days after winning the belt. Among the world champions of the immediate post war era, Sexton had a career that could have only been eclipsed by the rise of a Lou Thesz.

(CREDITS: Historical Wrestling Society #19: The Ring Record Of Frank Sexton by Richard Haynes, the research of historians Jim Melby, Don Luce, Koji Miyamoto, Fred Hornby, John D. Williams & J Michael Kenyon.)


(Philadelphia Inquirer, September 4, 2000)

By Adam L. Cataldo

A few years ago, all Dave Thomas wanted was to take his 5-year-old son to work.

Whenever he set off in his car at night, he left Andrew behind. His 16-by-16-foot office was filled with freakish characters, foul language, provocatively dressed women, and cartoonish violence that drove the point home like a body slam every night.

Still, Andrew kept asking Thomas the same question.

"I want to see Daddy wrestle," he would say. "Why can't I go?"

Thomas was working as a professional wrestler on the independent circuit in New Jersey. But the shows had become too mature for children, including his own.

Three years ago, he and his wife, Lois, helped launch the United Wrestling Coalition, a company that produces wrestling shows staged with children in mind. For the last two years, they have been running the company, which has produced 28 wrestling events. Lois Thomas is the promoter.

In an era when even Las Vegas is marketing itself as a family-friendly place, could professional wrestling be far behind?

"Let's face it: Wrestling is for kids," said Dave Thomas, a 33-year-old machinist who lives with his family in Springfield, Burlington County. "And kids are the only ones who are going to believe in the magic of pro wrestling."

About five years ago, a friend of Thomas' began to attend a school for professional wrestling, and Thomas went along to watch. Six months later, he enrolled in the school, viewing it as a more interesting way of getting into shape than lifting weights.

"In your first three months, you're one big bruise. Eventually it becomes one big callus," said Thomas, whose 6-foot frame carries 250 pounds of muscle.

After six months of training, he entered his first match. He wrestled for two years before he and his wife joined the business end.

The coalition's next event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the 9,000-seat Northern Star Arena at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, Ocean County. Thomas, who lost his last match as "Lt. Warhead," will wrestle tonight.

A portion of the proceeds from about 90 percent of the coalition's shows benefits nonprofit or charitable groups. Some of the proceeds from today's show will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Lois Thomas, 34, said she and her husband had been able to make back most of the $25,000 they invested in the company.

"We may make a profit one show and take a loss one show," she said. "If we have made $5,000 over the last two years, I would be surprised."

The group sees its productions as a return to wrestling's roots.

"When we started, we wanted to do family-oriented shows - shows that families wouldn't have to worry about bringing their kids to, and we wouldn't have to worry about bringing our kids to," Lois Thomas said.

The United Wrestling Coalition's events shun the gimmicks often seen in pro wrestling, such as harsh language and scantily clad women. And except for the occasional chair, foreign objects are not used as weapons in the ring.

"I'm old school in that I don't think you need that kind of thing to entertain," Dave Thomas said.

The group's style naturally appeals to a young audience, said Mark Melaccio, the production manager.

"You're basically acting out a one-act play," said Melaccio, 28, who is originally from Jackson Township and now lives in New York City.

"It's an action-packed little story from beginning to end. That's what wrestlers do when they're out there," he said. "They tell a story."

Melaccio, a computer technician, develops storylines for the events and pairs up wrestlers for matches.

"We try to run everything like it's on a television show, but without the cameras," he said.

Melaccio started wrestling about eight years ago. Most of his work now is done behind the scenes, but he will wrestle in today's event as the Cannon.

Melaccio has the more traditional look of a wrestler. Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing about 330 pounds, he has a long, black ponytail, and each hand appears to be the size of a catcher's mitt.

Wrestling allows him to combine the physicality of football and the creativity of a staged show, two of his favorite activities while in high school.

"When you're putting it all together, it is like art," he said.

About 200 people attended the group's last event in July, at the Columbus Farmers Market.

Squealing children jumped up and down on wooden tables trying to get free gifts tossed by the show's master of ceremonies.

The fans welcomed one of the first wrestlers of the night, who was dressed in purple, with chants of "Barney." His corpulent colleague was greeted as "Jenny Craig."

"It was clean and entertaining," said Army Sgt. David Oakes, 33, who went to the show with his daughters Jessica, 7, and Emily, 4. "There weren't any tears, and I didn't see any of the kids after the match wanting to beat each other up."

"You tell me: What's the difference between this and the Power Rangers?" asked Pat Pikunis, 39, of Pemberton Township. "It was silly to me at first, because they don't have the prestige behind them. After a while, it was fun."

She attended with her sons, Wesley, 12, and Tyler, 8, and her husband, George, 45, who works as a truck driver.

"It's like watching the Three Stooges," George Pikunis said. "I'd rather have my kids see this than Mike Tyson box."

The WAWLI Papers No. 803...


Subj: Re: [oldfallguys] WAWLI Papers No. 803: FRANK (POWERHOUSE) SEXTON
Date: 9/9/00 11:51:38 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (John D. Williams)

J Michael,

Was the attached re-published with permission of both authors?

The piece was written by Steve and I for The Other Arena website. The bio hasn't even been put up yet as we're still working on the artwork to go along with it. Yet here I'm reading our own work being distributed all across the internet by you, without permission.

Beyond that, looking at the other history items you sent in issues over the last day, I note that vast amounts of them have been lifted from the PWI Almanac. It's possible you were simple lifting them off of another website that stole them from PWI without permission and attribution. Regardless, since I assisted PWI on the piece that was lifted (and in fact recognize much of my own writing), I have an obligation to report that to PWI.

J Michael, all of us who love wrestling history and the study of it enjoy the work that you do. But you have an ethical duty to get permission from people who's work you republish. Not just because it's a legal requirement, but also because of the ethics of being a historian.

John Williams


Dear Mr. Williams,

You introduce a couple of cogent points, not the least of which was that the article in question was intended for another web site. I assure you that I would have respected that privacy, had I only known. I was under the (mistaken, apparently) impression that the Sexton piece was done principally as an information backgrounder for general reference.

As far as the PWI Almanac is concerned, I don't know the article to which you are referring, but I'm not particularly concerned. I, too, have contributed to PWI and seen my work re-produced by many others. I also know that certain portions of the various PWI Almanacs owe their genesis to work that I, and other oldtimers, have done for the past 40 and more years.

Of course, that was the way I wanted it.

Let me tell you about the work: it was, and is, done out of love for the game itself, and a desire to let others become aware of its rich history. None of us - with precious few exceptions -- has ever netted so much as a nickel from those efforts. I don't believe, either, that I am far off the mark when I inform you that the basis of ALL wrestling historical scholarship was seeded by a dozen or so individuals, many now dead, who kept alive the spirit of pro wrestling's past until the current generation began to get a little curious about what was at the root of all this mammoth hippodrome.

There is something new in the wind these days, however, and your letter proves to be, as it were, the last straw for me. Apparently, it is no longer the norm to freely share the information (although many of the roots of the Sexton piece were originally uncovered by myself, and others of a similar ilk -- a few, including myself, are even credited at the article's end).

You mention "permission" and "legal requirement" and others mention "copyright" but those are just euphemisms for people who dream, however remotely, of dollar signs. Believe, no decent historian ever got rich. But the days of even consigning your work to the free and unfettered access of others who seek a little kernel of knowledge or entertainment seem to have disappeared, although I always thought the Internet was going to be a wonderful conduit for such treasures. As has usually been the case in my life, I was wrong.

And when my "ethics" as a historian are challenged, I am left to shake my head in sorrow.

Hence, with this declaration - and further apology to you, sir, because I sense you and I come from different worlds and you are obviously offended by what you consider to be my trespasses - I withdraw from the arena.

This -- number 804 in a string dating back to June, 1995, a period of some 2,900 days that I hope have provided some small source of enjoyment for those who cared to subscribe -- is the final issue of The WAWLI Papers. Such a decision, alas, appears to be consistent with the tenor of these times. Henceforth, rather than distribute information, I shall just curl up in my small storehouse of wrestling artifacts and antiquities and work for my own purposes - which, as always, come down to providing a minor amusement in a world otherwise gone mad.

At the same time, I will remove from the Internet the WAWLI archives over which I have control, rather than risk offending any others who may have seen themselves as victims of my relentless propagandizing.

If my actions are somehow seen as churlish, I will understand -- and sympathize. But is not from meanness that I make this decision, only frustration. I can only hope you, and others, will understand the vast disappointment attached to ending a pursuit begun when Dwight Eisenhower was president.

All things, however, must end. Now this does, too.


J Michael Kenyon