Sunday, November 26, 2017

Travels with the Canadian Title

From 1978 to 1984 we had the Toronto based 'Canadian Heavyweight Title' to be defended at MLG and around the area. The title was introduced after the departure of The Sheik and his 'U.S. Title' that had been the main championship here since 1974. Prior to that we had the other U.S. Title held by Johnny Valentine, Tiger Jeet Singh and others. That one ran from 1962 to 1972.

Yes a 'US Title was the number one spot in Toronto CANADA for all those years, that's pro wrestling.

To be fair we also had a British Empire championship (Canada was once part of the British Empire) that
was the big one in the 1940's and 1950's. Whipper Watson mostly held that one and continued to be billed as champ until about 1967 although it kind of fizzled out long before that.

Enter the Canadian Title in Oct 1978. Technically pro wrestling wise it traced its lineage back to 1922 and the days of George Walker and later Jack Taylor. We will look at Walker and Taylor in a future blog entry. Earl McCready also held it in the 1930's and again in 1941, if anyone was a 'real Canadian champ' it was him.

Our eras Canadian title would go back and forth between the faces (longer runs) and the heels (shorter runs) and would even travel a bit when in the hands of Dewey Robertson, Dino Bravo, and Angelo Mosca.

The first champ Dino Bravo would appear down in the Carolinas and Virginia where the Mid-Atlantic stars plied their trade and would end up appearing more there - than here.

MLG was only run about twice a month at that time and the local circuit had yet to come back to a fuller schedule so Bravo appeared in the South about 60 times compared to about 10 times here.

He wasn't always defending the title down South but did appear with the belt both on TV and in the arenas as well as a handful of title defences against the likes of Toronto enemy's Greg Valentine and Ric Flair. Bravo would remain a good guy in both areas while holding the title.

Dewey Robertson would also take the belt to the Carolinas where he would wrestle as a 'kinda bad guy', same style but more agressive and at times affiliated with Buddy Rogers who was back in the game first as a wrestler then as a manager.

Dewey would appear with the belt and also defend it in the South all the while staying the epitome of a good guy Canadian up here. He would appear in the South over 40 times while champ compared to 11 times here.

Angelo Mosca would put the most mileage on the Canadian Title during his reigns. While champ he would travel throughout the WWF territory from Hamburg TV Tapings through Philadelphia, Boston,  New York City, and the other stops on the Northeast circuit.

Mosca was still a vicious heel in WWF (he had turned here in the late 70's) challenging champ Bob Backlund, attacking Pat Patterson with a water pitcher (great angle!), and steamrolling over every other good guy in the area, all while being cheered here.

Tunney had also gone back to a fairly busy circuit around Toronto and Mosca was working the arenas around MLG on a regular schedule as well.

He didn't defend the title in WWF but did show up with it occasionally, By the time of his last reign he was now frequenting Florida, again as a heel and he would defend the belt in the Sunshine State.

He also would team in Florida with his Toronto arch-enemy John Studd to the surprise of many fans here (once the photos hit the Apter mags). All in all Mosca would appear well over 100 times elsewhere with about 35 appearances here while champ

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Billy Stack vs Fred Atkins Oshawa 1950

Action shot from the Oshawa Arena summer 1950. These two had a couple of bouts while Atkins was the newest and toughest heel and Stack was the local hero.

Atkins, fresh from Australia was tearing up the Toronto scene, already putting fear in the hearts of wrestlers across the region. Stack, an affable type who ran a farm here in the Oshawa area was a tall fast scientific type,who could get down and brawl if he had to.

Atkins was a workhorse in Oshawa appearing in over 100 bouts with 45 main events between 1949 and 1968, second only to Pat Flanagan. Stack had close to the same run appearing from at least 1946* to 1963. *lot of microfilm missing from 1940s

Of course both men went on to be long time referees at Maple Leaf Gardens and around the area. Stack first through the 1950's and 60's and Atkins in the 1970's and early 1980's.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Make Believe Gardens !

The fine folks over at the Mid Atlantic Gateway  have been featuring a great diorama with figures representing the best of Mid Atlantic action circa late 70's early 80's.

Well we now have our own featuring a capture of the action at Maple Leaf Gardens circa 1982 !

Thanks to highly underrated -and slightly unknown- star Barry Hatchet ("Kicking ass is my business...and business is good!") for these pics of a bout featuring Barry and Ninja and Ivan Koloff with Sir Oliver Humperdink in a handicap facing Blackjack Mulligan and 'Bad Bad' Leroy Brown
(Barry Hatchet pinned everyone and won btw)

Wouldn't be complete without everyone else from MLW ....we have
Norm Kimber making introductions
Billy Red Lyons waiting to interview Barry,
Frank Tunney directing traffic at the curtain to the ramp
refs Fred Atkins and Terry Yorkston (he of the pompadour)
and me and my buddies leaning on the ramp while the ushers do their best to keep us away - or ignore us completely (most would be entranced by the bouts, great gig for a wrestling fan ! )

Thanks again to Barry for sharing ! click on photos to see larger