Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dino Bravo 'Suspended' 1979

It's often hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't back in the day. Even 'official' announcements were mostly just pro wrestling fun, most of them anyways , but not always.

So its summer 1979, Dino Bravo is at the height of his popularity here, proving to be a great Canadian champ and holding it most of the time since it was created for him in late 1978.

He was warring with the likes of Greg Valentine, Ric Flair, and even AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel  as well as defending the title down south as we looked at in a previous blog. He was teaming occasionally with WWF champ Bob Backlund, and the fans were solidly behind him.

Suddenly he disappeared. He was scheduled to face Ken Patera on Aug 19 but never showed. Tunney saved the day by getting Backlund to come in on short notice to offer his title up to Patera instead. The fans were disappointed but not that much. Tunney however may have felt differently. Frank or nephew Jack, by this point likely running the day to day of the office.

It was announced that Bravo had suffered an injury and thus was unable to appear. A couple of weeks later a tidbit said the injury would sideline him for a year and they would need to hold a tournament to decide a new champ.

Dewey Robertson ended up beating Valentine in the tourny final to become the new champ and the show marched on.

Fast forward to April 1980. The AWA was coming into Ottawa Ontario to try a show. Ottawa, once a hotbed of wrestling action had been neglected by both Tunney (who had ran it years before) and the Quebec based promotions who frequented the area in the 1970's.
The AWA is very confused !

Bravo, now wrestling regularly for the AWA and embroiled in a big feud with big Crusher Blackwell was scheduled to be the headline bout for the AWA debut in Ottawa on Apr 13.

A promo on the AWA tv show we got here actually had Gene Okerlund interviewing Blackwell in front of a sign that said 'Maple Leaf Gardens'. Oops. actually Ottawa Civic Auditorium.

Funny thing is Tunney DID have an Apr 13 show at MLG. Wonder what happened there? The AWA card was actually set for Apr 30.

At any rate Bravo appeared in Ottawa to face Blackwell and was told he could not wrestle due to a suspension in Ontario. Blackwell faced Johnny War Eagle instead.

The 'official story' as it was reported in a newspaper was that 'Bravo had originally been suspended by Ontario Athletic Commission Chairman Jim Vipond for being an 'immature and irresponsible person' after no showing for Tunney'.

Vipond was the real deal, he was the guy who made a lot of trouble for Dave 'Wildman' McKigney here and the ruling would appear to have been official.

Was it? appears so

A quote by Tunney in the same article said that he 'had no concerns if he's (Bravo) allowed to wrestle in Ontario again, but he'll never wrestle for me again.' Of course Bravo would return for Tunney in 1982.

The ban was lifted and Bravo showed up in Ottawa for the next card to wrestle Blackwell. The bit at right says about 7,000 expected. They would draw about 5-7'000 over the series of shows spaced out over several months.

That would be it for the AWA in Ottawa....however Tunney must have been keeping a close eye and in 1981 while Mosca was champ he went back in for several shows through 81-82 that did about the same numbers.

At that time Tunney had gone back to a circuit and was running Kingston the day before so Ottawa wasn't a big stretch as compared to the AWA coming in from Minneapolis, or at least Winnipeg.

Bravo returned to Toronto in Jan 1982 to face Frankie Laine and got a huge round of applause from the fans. He returned for the Cadillac Tourny a couple months later and that was it for him during the NWA era.