Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Masked Men in Toronto - Part 2

This is the second part of a look at Masked Men in Toronto
Part 1 is here Masked Men in Toronto- Part 1

Whipper Watson closed out the 1950's by unmasking the Great Bolo in 1959 to reveal Al Lovelock under the mask. That marked the 4th mask Whipper had collected so far in Toronto. In 1961 he would add to that total unmasking the Black Terror with Laverne Baxter underneath. Baxter had wrestled here briefly in the early 1950's as Vern Baxter and had arrived on the scene as Black Terror in March 1961.

Kudo 1962
In 1962 there was The Great Kudo with veteran Red Garner under the mask. He had ran his own promotion the CCWA for many years in the smaller towns mostly North of Toronto. As Kudo he had a feud with Bruno Sammartino and after Bruno had left and won the WWWF Title Kudo was his first title defense back in Toronto in 1964. Kudo was handled by a 'Sam Sullivan' and Garner would run the gimmick on his circuit shows around the area.

In June 1966 a new masked man appeared on the scene, the first of the Destroyer's. In Jan 1964 he was finally unmasked by Johnny Valentine to reveal Joe Christie. Christie had worked around the territories both as the Destroyer and as a Masked Marvel. He appeared in Toronto prior as Christie and again after he was unmasked.

Valentine would collect another mask in May 1964 from the Mighty Hercules. The bout with special ref Bobby Bruns ended when Valentine had Hercules caught up in the ropes and ripped his mask off before applying a brainbuster and then pinning him. Hercules said that because he wasn't pinned first as per the terms of the contract he was under no obligation to identify himself. Fans were calling him Bobby Graham while Bruns said he would have guessed it was Hans Schnabel but then remarked 'But no, Schnabel would be about my (Bruns) age,'

Of the many unmaskings at MLG this was the only one not officially named but was likely Graham who plied his trade all over the wrestling world under several different names including Mighty Hercules.

Whipper was back at it in 1966, this time with his former rival, now tag partner Bulldog Brower. They were feuding with a masked team the Masked Yankees and the bout was a Survivor match with no countouts or dq's and falls count anywhere. Added stipulation was that if Whip and Brower lost Whipper would retire. If the Yankees lost they would unmask.

The good guys prevailed and unmasked after Whip had pinned one of the Yankees and he didn't get back up after the one minute count afforded between falls. The card was held at the outdoor Maple Leaf Stadium with the ring over home plate where they said 'the baseball catchers regularly unmask.'

Bob Stanlee and Moose Evans were under the masks. Stanlee had been here as 'Big Bob Stanlee', he was a 'wrestling brother' to 'Mr America' Steve Stanlee who was a popular star here in the 1950's and early 1960's. Moose Evans had never wrestled here before coming in as a Yankee. The two teams would have a re-match and the team now dubbed 'Unmasked Yankees' was to leave the area if they lost. They did and disappeared from the scene.

1966 saw the Caped Crusader hit the area and sometimes accompanied by Wonder Boy. This was the Batman gimmick taking advantage of the success of the TV show. They dressed as Batman and Robin but were billed as Caped Crusader and Wonder Boy perhaps to get around the legalities. Tony Marino was the Crusader and used the same gimmick in the US as Battman, two t's. Assume he was also the 'Masked Crusader' just after the pair departed. John Foti was the Wonder Boy. He had wrestled here as far back as 1956 while Marino debuted here in 1960.

The Assassin appeared on the scene in 1967. He was later joined by another for a short time, billed as  'Assassins' I and II or the Masked Assassins.

Assassin vs Brower 1968
The Assassin was a mainstay on the scene for the next several years. In 1971 he met The Sheik in the middle of Sheik's five year unbeaten streak and was unmasked. Under the mask was Guy Mitchell, a graduate of the Hamilton scene and Spittles and Wentworth's gyms. Mitchell was an 'Assassin' prior in the WWA and would later be known as 'Gentleman' Jerry Valiant. The feud he had with Sheik was a heel-heel and after the unmasking Mitchell would stay on as 'The Stomper' or Guy 'The Stomper' Mitchell. After a prolonged absence he came back as Valiant in the WWF days.

The Assassin gimmick returned in the early 1980's on Dave McKigney's circuit with various wrestlers under the mask. Tunney regulars Brian 'Silent' Macnee and Tim Gerrard were two of them.

The Executioner was a regular in the early 1970's. He was never unmasked but was likely mostly Ernie Moore under the mask. Another Hamilton area star, he saw success in the Buffalo/Cleveland based NWF in the early 1970's. As 'Ernie Moore' he wrestled mostly on the smaller circuit cards around Southern Ontario.

Crusader Robertson
Later in the Sheik Streak 'The Crusader' showed up for his try and after losing was unmasked as Dewey Robertson. Dewey was another homegrown star who at one time was primed by Whipper to be the next big star. He had wrestled here regularly since 1967 before becoming The Crusader in 1974. Once unmasked he would sometimes go by 'Crusader' Robertson and soon teamed with Billy Red Lyons as 'The Crusaders.'

The Crusaders would dominate the tag scene for a time with a long feud with the Love Brothers. The fans knew who they were and they were often billed with their regular names and wrestled unmasked as well. Another frequent tag rival the Kelly Twins Pat and Mike would later don masks on McKigney's circuit in 82-83 as 'The Destroyers.'

Around the same time we saw the masked El Santos I and El Santos II. Checkerboard white and black masks and outfits mostly played by Terry Yorkston and Duncan McTavish but others used the gimmick here and elsewhere. They occasionally used the El Santos gimmick on McKigney's circuit in the early 80's as well.
Super D II with Hayes

When Tunney was using the AWA stars in 1977-78 we had the Super Destroyers I and II both as a team and solo. Under the masks were Don Jardine and a pre-Sgt Bob Slaughter. Jardine had wrestled here early in his career as Don 'Babyface' Jardine, another of Whipper Watson's prospects. He had later become The Spoiler but never used that masked persona here. Slaughter was Super Destroyer II and they were accompanied by manager Lord Alfred Hayes. They had a good creepy look going, kind of like the villain in the Scream movies.

One of the best wrestlers of the Mid Atlantic era was the Masked Superstar. He was a regular here from 1980 - 1983 as Superstar and had appeared here previously as part of the Mongol's team (not masked). He returned in the WWF days as part of Demolition (makeup no masks) and appeared in the Frank Tunney Tag Tournament they held in 1987.

For a time in 1980 he was joined by Masked Superstar II. He would lose his mask to Blackjack Mulligan revealing John Studd. Studd had wrestled as the masked Executioner in the WWWF but not here. He would stay on to feud with Blackjack over the next several years and would hold our Canadian Title in 1981

When Dick Beyer returned in 1979 after a long absence (last wrestled here in 1961) as The Destroyer, he added 'Original, Sensational, Intelligent..' to the name. Not to be confused with the previous versions. He was here regularly through the M-A era.

Near the end of the NWA days we had the Assassins. They had been huge stars in the U.S. with original members Jody Hamilkton and Tom Renesto. By this time Hamilton had been teaming with various others after Renesto had retired. In a hair vs mask bout Jimmy Valiant won over the Assassin and he was unmasked as Ray 'Hercules' Hernandez. Around the same time there was the 'Grapplers' Len Denton and Tony Anthony.

Thanks to Gary Will

Friday, May 25, 2018

Whipper, Pat, Bunny 1943

Three of the longest serving of the MLW regulars pictured in 1943. Just counting their service under Corcoran and Tunney, over 100 years combined.

  • Al 'Bunny' Dunlop wrestled from about 1932 and then refereed through to 1971 - 39 years
  • Whipper Watson wrestled 1940-1971 and around occasionally to late 1970s - 31+ years
  • Pat Flanagan wrestled 1942 to 1968 and referred to about 1978 - 36 years

This show, just over 75 years ago this May,  was for the 'Fresh Air Fund' which helps kids get out of the city in the summer and enjoy some country life, still going strong today.

Pedro Martinez took on Ed 'Strangler' Lewis. He didn't 'murder the Strangler' but went down to a headlock then body press in losing the bout. Martinez was a regular here before he branched out and promoted Buffalo. The whole Toronto crew were frequent visitors to Buffalo.

May 13 1943 Maple Leaf Gardens 
The Red Shadow pinned Whipper Watson 39:09
Ed 'Strangler' Lewis pinned Pedro Martinez 8:27 
Fank Sexton defeated Jack Claybourne  15:02
Al 'Bunny' Dunlop beat Jack Wentworth 16:53
Pat Flanagan pinned Jan Gotch 16:16 
Referee: Ernie Powers

Thursday, May 24, 2018

External Link- Mid-Atlantic Gateway: It's All in the Family for "Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Mid-Atlantic Gateway: It's All in the Family for "Nature Boy" Ric Flair: by Dick Bourne Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Chances are you already visit the M-A Gateway but in case ...

Love the family tree for Ric Flair , they looked at the family prior also- see link below
And you thought your family was tough!

Mid-Atlantic Gatewey: Blood is Thicker Than Water

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Montreal 1983: Classic Clippings

More Montreal clippings, this time 1983. We would have been lucky to have this quality of cards in Toronto by this time. We did get the International Wrestling show so we were able to tune into the great wrestling going on just up the road. There are some duplicates, slightly different ads for the same cards. Again, dates in pen were when they were pulled from the paper.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Waldo Von Erich: Holland Marsh's gift to the wrestling fraternity

1965 Maple Leaf Gardens in front of 'the wall'

Over the course of his career Wally Sieber aka Waldo Von Erich used about 10 different names before making it big as 'Waldo Von Erich' wrestling brother of Fritz. His early career is mostly unknown or forgotten but he was a big 'star' on Red Garner's Toronto area circuit from 1950 through 1957. He learned the ropes alongside other Garner regulars who went on to bigger things including early training partner Jacques Dubois (Dave McKigney), Mike Scicluna (later Valentino/Baron Scicluna), Ron Doner, and Ron 'Bull' Johnson.

He appeared on a Garner Weston Arena card in November 1950 described as a crowd pleaser from Stuttgart, Germany. He shows up on more Weston arena cards through 1951 including the ad at right vs Gori 'Ed' Mangotich. Gori was a Toronto native and big star overseas who worked on Garner cards for many years.

 In July 1951 they played up his 'debut as a pro wrestler' in his hometown. At 200lbs in the Arena in the town of Bradford (within the Holland Marsh) billed as Baron Von Sieber- hometown boy he would spend the next 6-7 years wrestling for the Richmond Hill, ON based Central Canadian Wrestling Association (CCWA).

Right from the start they would play to his family heritage with the Baron part but in write-ups often just 'Wally Sieber -Holland Marsh's gift to the wrestling fraternity.'

He would hold the CCWA's Canadian heavyweight  title for a time and hone his craft on the competitive and fast paced circuit before the big league came calling.

In 1954 he was named as one of Canada's most promising wrestlers by Barry Lloyd Penhale in 'Wrestling As You Like It' magazine. He was named alongside Frank 'Scotty' Thompson, Ferenz (Jimmy) Sziksay, Bill Curry (Kasaboski star), Stan Holek (aka Stan Lisowski/Nielson), Tony Baillargeon, Sandy Scott, and Maurice 'Mad Dog' Vachon

In September 1957 he would appear on a Tunney associated card in Bradford (likely promoted by Tommy Nelson) in what was called his 'debut for the MLW troupe.' Now the 'German Oak' he would face tough Tiger Tasker and a month later he would walk the ramp at Maple Leaf Gardens to take on Dick Hutton. This was during Hutton's $1000 challenge and Seiber would fall, as many others had, to Hutton's abdominal stretch.

An added note to that 1957 Bradford card was that Fritz Von Erich was teamed with Dick Hutton vs The Fabulous Kangeroos. Fritz was a top heel here then and he and Wally would appear on many of the same cards over the next year.

Even at MLG his name continued to change, sometimes Baron Von Sieber, other times Waldo Von Sieber then sometimes just Wally or even Walter. The 'Von Erich' brotherhood would happen away from Toronto and when Wally returned in November 1964 as Waldo Von Erich, Fritz was long gone from here. The Von Erich 'brothers' would never team in this area though Waldo would remain Fritz's 'brother' in the stories in the mags up to the late 1970's and beyond.

Close up at MLG 

Roger Baker, whose photos are featured here remembers meeting Waldo during his time both as a fan in the early days and later as a wrestling photog and writer.

'This wrestling reporter can go all the way back to around 1955 when I first met Wally Sieber, it was the summer time, and the place was ''Sunny Side Beach'' we were both in our late teens, I recognized Wally as soon as saw him, he was tall, very muscular, and he may have had blond hair. 

Wally was with a buddy, and they were both having a great time by the huge swimming pool that was the hallmark of the beach area, we chatted for a while, and he told me that he appreciated when he was recognized out side of a wrestling ring, he was looking forward to his future as a wrestler  

Over the ensuing years we met on several more occasions, we met at a summer dance hall in Jacksons point, at a wrestling event in Detroit's Cobo Hall, as well an event at Buffalo's War Memorial Auditorium. As well Wally and The Fabulous Kangaroos Al Costello and Roy Saint Clair, and myself had a great dinning experience in a Lebanese restaurant in Detroit.

And there was the time when Wally literally got his hands on me, this happened in a dressing room at M.L.G. it was if memory serves me correct around 1964. I had popped in to see who was there, in the hopes of getting some dressing room candids. This can be tricky, as with anyone if you don't ask first it can result in a nasty incident, however Wally was in the room at the time and we got to talking about injuries from wrestling, as well as other sports.

There was a large adjustment table in the room, some of the other wrestlers who were there used the bench for abdominal crunches to warm up ahead of their up coming match. I mentioned to Wally that I had been in discomfort from a very stiff neck at the time. He offered to adjust my neck on the bench, so with some trepidation I got on the bench on my back and without the benefit of any pre-adjustment  loosening up, he applied what was best described as a full nelson on me, followed by a quite forceful backwards pull. I motioned to him that 'I give up' and he released me and told me I should feel better after a while.

While all this had been going on, little did I know that the boss himself, Frank Tunney, had come into the room while I was on the bench. Being some what embarrassed at the time I said hello to Tunney, who gave me a quizzical look. I got to be man handled by a 245lb. brute of a wrestler, and live to talk about it. '

MLG 1965 vs Bruno 

Waldo would earn his first major title bout locally in 1964 against WWWF champ Bruno Sammartino. He would face Bruno twice in 1965 and again in 1976 at MLG. Those two would battle all over WWWF proper over the years, Waldo the perfect ethnic monster heel type they would match up against Bruno.

In 1965 Waldo would team with Gene Kiniski. Big Gene had previously teamed with Fritz here in 1957 creating a monster tag that caused havoc all over the area. The new tag of Waldo and Gene would feud with Whipper Watson and Johnny Valentine.

He would take an extended absence through the early 1970's as he traveled the world before returning here to appear both at MLG and the outer circuit alongside the WWA/McKigney stars. As well in those days the 'Lake circuit' that included Cleveland, Buffalo, and Detroit, had a busy schedule for our local guys.

He stayed a regular here though Mar 4 1979 when he wrestled his last bout at the Gardens against Johnny Yachetti (The Beast)

I also met Waldo some years back and he was a very nice and gracious guy, not at all like his wrestling persona. The pic below by Roger taken in the Buffalo dressing room reflects that.

Photos- and thanks! - to Roger Baker

For more on the CCWA do a search at right or click on tags including Red Garner, CCWA, etc

Pensive in Buffalo