Saturday, January 20, 2018

Angelo Mosca Jr

Angelo Mosca Jr. gets a lot of heat online, a lot of it based on the few youtube bouts out there, not exactly reflective of his entire ring tenure. Granted he was no Lou Thesz but he wasn't anywhere near the worst wrestler either. The bout vs Ivan Koloff in which Jr. won the Mid-Atlantic Title is particularly hard to watch (a nice dropkick one of the few highlights) but is hardly indicative of his entire wrestling career.

He grew up the son of one of the most famous CFL players in Canadian history who earned his nicknames the hard way. 'Mean & Nasty' was a carry over from his Football days when he was known as the 'meanest man in Football', on and off the field Sr. was a true life 'heel.'

Jr. followed in his fathers footsteps playing football through his teen years. In June 1981 Jr, as a defensive guard was cut at the BC Lions training camp, effectively ending his pro ball dreams. He went on to earn a degree from Concordia University and went into working in the sport and fitness field.

He and his father were close though his parents separated when he was 4 years old but he had seen a lot of his father while growing up. By the time he was old enough to be aware of Sr's name his father's playing days were over. Sr's 'Tell it to my face' campaign for Schick razors earned Jr. some razzing from his fellow schoolmates.
Saving Pop from a beatdown at MLG 1984 

Years later while planning a charity fundraiser (Still Mosca) paying tribute to Sr. and raising funds for Alzheimer research Jr. would admit that he was learning more about his father talking to old friends and teammates in preparation for the event. Jr was helping Sr. film some of his memories including reflecting on friends passed on. 'I'm learning more about him from some of the other people I've been contacting, even when we travelled together and I was wrestling with him you didn't talk about stuff like that. It's just you're on the road. I'm a very quiet introspective guy. We just travelled.'
*credit Greg Oliver  

He would begin training in 1983 alongside Sr. and others for 6 months. Sr, was especially happy about Jr. coming into the profession and was immensely proud of his namesake.

He debuted in wrestling in 1984 at the age of 24 against veteran Ox Baker. Sr. was 47 at the time and winding down his wrestling career.

They would travel together, Jr. admitting that the constant travel was the hardest part. They would work out in the gym together, travel to their bouts then fly back to Charlotte, NC where they were both living at the time, Jr. on his own and Sr. with his then 'very understanding wife' Gwen.

Sr., reflecting on his son's career in 2008 said 'My son's a good guy but he was never cut out for the business. He liked the money. I used to get him up early in the morning to go to the gym and stuff. He'd say, 'Dad, do we have to do this?' I'd say 'The good looking hooker makes the money.'  That's the way I took the business. We were whores. I was a big guy. I had a fair physique on me, and I took care of myself. My son, I don't know if he really wanted to pay that price."
* credit Greg Oliver

Despite the lack of interest Jr. received a big push from the start. He debuted at MLG as a late addition in Apr 1984 in the Canadian Title Tournament to decide a new champion after Angelo Sr. was forced to vacate the title due to injury. He beat Terry Kay and then faced Kabuki in the quarter final. He would win the bout in just 38 seconds (always a couple really short bouts in those tourneys to fit all the matches)  but Kabuki would spray his green mist and Jr. would be out for the remainder, which Koloff eventually won.

Two weeks later he would get the main event teamed with Sr. against Koloff and Kabuki. They would appear together on the cover of the Stranglehold program and get the win. Prior to the bout Jr. told a reporter ' the best thing about wrestling is working with this guy right here,' thumping his father on the thigh. 'I just hope I can pass on a few things to him' replied Sr. The bout ends when Jr' finally tags into to save his Dad from a beat down and pins Kabuki. The villains throw him out of the ring and go to work on Sr with Koloff's chain. Jr. regains the ring and grabs the chain and chases the bad guys away to a huge roar from the crowd. The success would continue through the Carolina's with Jr. seeing success on the Southern circuit as well.

The two would appear on the same cards leading into a June card at MLG which saw Jr. get the win over Koloff and collect the belt his father had previously worn. Only Sr. was present at the next card and Jr's championship glory was to be short lived as it was announced a few days later that Jack Tunney had gone with the WWF and the title was retired (forgotten) with nary a defense.

Jr would show up in Dec 1984 with Toronto now under the WWF banner and appear on TV briefly with Sr. as a short lived announcer for the Hamilton/Brantford TV tapings. One more appearance in Feb 1985 and that was it for Jr.

In 1986 Mosca Sr would attempt to jump start the return of the NWA in Ontario with a big show in Hamilton dubbed 'Moscamania.' Jr. figured prominently on the Poster for the event, depicted just below Jimmy Valiant and Dusty Rhodes. The card did well drawing 12,000 fans with a gate of $140,000 to see a main of NWA champ Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. Jr. teamed with Vic Rossitani against the Kelly Twins. Sr. attempted to create a schedule across the smaller towns and despite a syndicated TV deal but it failed to materialise as promised.

Both father and son would be featured on the popular CTV show Lifetime which ran the same night as a big WWF show at MLG. Sr,  in contrast to Jr was still enjoying the spotlight and would show up in many TV commercials, appear on shows like Night Heat, and was part of several business ventures capitalising on his name.
Finally posing with the Cdn Title
photo courtesy Barry Hatchet

The two would see some action on Dave McKigney's Big Time circuit teaming up to take on Sweet Daddy Siki and Killer Karl Krupp in a small show at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto in March 1986. A short distance but a long way from the bright lights at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Junior would stay on for some of the summer shows and return for MoscaMania II in Kitchener in November. That show was a disappointment drawing just 1,500, most of whom went to see the Road Warriors though Hawk never showed and was replaced by manager Paul Ellering. Jr took on Siki and it was back to the circuit.

The general consensus for those who saw him on the smaller circuit was that he was much improved, smoother in the ring and better adjusted to the pro style.

In Feb 1987 Sr. again ran Hamilton with an NWA show. Jr took on Shaska (aka Pistol Pez) Whatley in the opener and shortly thereafter wrapped up his ring career.

Jr would later work in the Hamilton penal system, mostly with young offenders. and in the recent years would appear with his Dad at a couple of wrestling meet and greets.