Friday, August 31, 2018

Jimmy Valiant 1982: Classic Photo

Jimmy Valiant making an ENTRANCE at MLG in 1982. This was his 'Handsome Jimmy' persona and to say it was popular would be a huge understatement. He was kind of a precursor to Hulkamania in his own way, a lot of flash and energy, and the fans loved him. You could argue his stuff didn't age well but there were others -Leroy Brown notably - that you couldn't mistake for Lou Thesz, but they had the fans and that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pedro Martinez and Rocca 1968: Classic Photo

Another fantastic photo from our friend Roger Baker. Pedro Martinez seated chats with
Antonino/Argentina Rocca during Rocca's comeback in Buffalo in 1968. Chief White Owl is in the background seated and standing is the Oklahoma Kid..

Back in the 60's I visited Buffalo's War Memorial Auditorium perhaps a dozen times to meet some great wrestling talent, my purpose was to photograph and interview top rated wrestling stars.

During this period it was my pleasure work with guy's like Bruno Sammartino, Waldo Von Eric, Crazy Luke Graham, Pampero Firpo, Abbdullah The Butcher, Argentina Rocca, Johnny Powers, and Louis Martinez to name just a few.

Standout wrestling promoter Pedro Martinez was always very courteous to me, and I found him to make me feel welcome whenever I would make the trip to Buffalo. One incident that stands out in my mind. I was covering a Saturday afternoon show at the Aud. and had brought along my young son, he was at his first ever wrestling show. I wanted to take him into the dressing room to meet the wrestlers, however one of Buffalo's best was who stood in front of the wrestlers dressing room would not let us in at this time, I got a bit frantic and ran out into the hallway looking for Pedro who was rushing out of the building to drive to another city where he had another wrestling event going on that evening.

I asked for help from him to gain entrance to the guarded dressing room, he wrote a couple of short lines on a piece of paper, ''Please show kindness'' we got in when I handed the message to the police officer. 


Thanks! to Roger Baker

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Pedro Martinez in Toronto

Many of the wrestlers of the early days of pro wrestling would go on to become promoters. There were several that had careers in Toronto and later promoted in Ontario and across the country. Buffalo and NY promoter Pedro Martinez spent some time in Toronto in the early 1940's

His Toronto debut in Apr 1942 had the new 'Mexican jumping bean' or 'Mad Mexican wrestling at 238lbs. Said to favor a 'well-placed kick to the face more than regular wrestling holds with no desire to become recognized as a great scientific wrestler' he was Pedro (mostly) in the ads but Ignacio to his friends.

He came in with a flurry and subsequent bouts established him as 'forceful and efficiant a mat villain as has come along here since the days of Stanley Stasiak.' High praise. His first main against the equally heel Roland Kirchmeyer earned him a short lived cheering section.

When he got his first main against Whipper Watson the bout went 45 minutes to a curfew draw. The winner was said to recieve an upcoming shot at World champ Bill Longson.

The rematch with Whipper was a brawl-fest that saw Martinez counted out after recieving a dropkick from Watson and ending up in the press seats at ringside.

In Apr 1943 Whipper was set to meet the Red Shadow, the newest masked villain. As reported later the 'real' Shadow appeared pre-bout for his medical examination and was declared fit. At the start of the bout Whip was telling manager Phil Lawson that something wasn't right. Watson would pin his opponent and rip the mask off - revealing Martinez - who was said to be relieved to catch his breath.

Martinez was said to be a stooge in playing the old duckaroo and promptly suspended as was the Shadow. Tunney asked for him to be re-instated, claiming he had been led astray by the Shadow. The commission would soon allow both him and the Red Shadow to wrestle - on a charity card Tunney had scheduled.

For the show with proceeds to charity Martinez was matched against Ed "Strangler' Lewis. Lewis described as 'portly' and according to Tunney Martinez would 'murder the Strangler'. He didn't and went down to the famous Strangler headlock then body press in losing the bout.
The Mummy

In Jan 1948 the newest Masked Marvel was brought in to face another newcomer. Wrestling's challenge to Frankenstien 'The Mummy.'

Tunney commented the office had been deluged with phone calls trying to guess who was under the mask. Terry McGuiness, Strangler Bob Wagner, Bronko Nagurski, Pedro Martinez, and Dr Len Hall were some of the guesses that were 'pretty good' accorcing to Tunney.

Marvel won the bout and exposed Martinez.

Around that time Martinez bought in to the Great Lakes Athletic Club and became partners with Ed Don George, who he later bought out. Buffalo would be a mirror city to Toronto hosting many of the same stars through the 1950's as well as being a popular TV show here.

We will follow this with a Classic Photo from Roger Baker of Promoter Pedro Martinez in 1968- stay tuned

Monday, August 13, 2018

Star Column Apr 1943

Working on a look at Pedro Martinez in Toronto and thought I would share this column from the Toronto Star Apr 24 1943 about Martinez being unmasked as the Red Shadow. Whipper refers to John Katan British Empire champ at the time. The second part is a cool lighthearted look at the office at the time. Tunney, Watson, Sobel, Lawson, and Dunlop.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Double Shot Feb 20 1983: NWA Champ Ric Flair

There were quite a few double-shots during the M-A affiliation, an afternoon card in the Carolinas and an evening card in Toronto. This one in Feb 1983 had both main event participants wrestling in both cities!

Flair was well known anyways for having a schedule that would have killed mere mortals and on this day he brought along some company. I assume they had a private flight lined up out of Greensboro to land in Toronto, forego customs, and hop in a waiting van straight to MLG arriving after the card had got underway. You will note the length of the first bouts at MLG.

Roddy Piper was scheduled but missed both cards. Up here Piper was said to be stuck in Puerto Rico. I remember reading years later in his book or perhaps Flair's book that it was indeed the case.

Terry Funk joined the others to take Piper's spot, the first time Terry had been back since he lost the title here to Harley Race in Feb 1977. In Toronto Flair was a huge fan favorite so if Funk hadn't been able to make the trip he may have been matched against his Greensboro partner Greg Valentine.

As for Piper, when he finally made it back to Toronto in March to face Flair for the title it was said he had to post a $15,000 appearance bond. On that same card (Mar27) Steamboat and Youngblood finally beat Slaughter and Kernodle in a title bout to claim the NWA tag titles which they had already won in Greensboro 2 weeks earlier -we will look at that in a future post.

2/20/83 Greensboro, NC 3PM
NWA Tag Titles: Sgt. Slaughter/Pvt. Kernodle W Terry Funk/Dory Funk, Jr
Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Ric Flair/Greg Valentine
Jimmy Valiant W One Man Gang
Dick Slater W Jerry Brisco (subs for Roddy Piper)
Jack Brisco W Paul Jones
Dizzy Hogan/Larry Lane W Ricky Harris/Bill White
Larry Lane W Ricky Morton

2/20/83 Toronto, ON 730PM
NWA Title: Ric Flair WP Terry Funk  (subs for Roddy Piper)
Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Sgt Slaughter/Don Kernodle
Salvatore Bellomo WDQ Ray Stevens
Leo Burke DCOR Tony Parisi
Destroyer W Terry Kay
Johnny Weaver WP Bobby Bass
Nick DeCarlo/Rudy Kay D Pvt. Nelson/Tim Gerrard

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Billy Red & Dewey Audio Snippet 1981

Another Audio Snippett, this time with Dewey Robertson. Dewey wasn't a great 'mic' guy. He was just a regular Canadian dude, mostly soft-spoken and not over the top in his promos. I was a big Dewey fan but this one isn't noteworthy for any other reason that it's conducted with his former tag partner and 'buddy' Billy Red Lyons in what was one of his last promos on Maple Leaf Wrestling -and pairing with BRL - before departing for good.

They are promoting the May 24 1981 card with Dewey to face Ray Stevens.

Monday, August 6, 2018

A week in the life 1981: Repost

Another repost looking at a week in MLW in 1981

Tunney went back to a small circuit in 1980 running the towns around Toronto before or after the big Sunday MLG show. It had been some years since Tunney had actively put on shows around the region.

The 1950's and 1960's were busy times for the Toronto office. Barrie, Stoufville, Oshawa, Hamilton, St Catherines, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Galt (Cambridge), Kitchener, Milton, Ottawa, and others saw regular weekly-or-so cards. Most of the towns had 'Promoters' who used Tunney stars but ran their own shows. That ended in the late 1960's for the most part with Dave McKigney, Whipper Jr, The Loves etc putting their own shows out, often with Tunney's guys and/or blessing to do it.

In 1980 with the success of the Mid-Atlantic partnership they went back to running the circuit. And stopped co-operating so much with others, especially with McKigney.

Some of the M-A stars would stay on for these shows, some of the bigger stars would head back to the South. It gave popular guys like Jay Youngblood a chance to star around the circuit while often at mid-card on the MLG shows. They would fit a TV taping in also either in Kitchener, Brantford, or Guelph for the most part.

As the MLG shows reduced to about 2 per month in this era the circuit towns may see 2 shows per month also in the week around the big card.

Here's a snapshot in Feb 1981 , if you have the Ad for the Buffalo show please send me and I'll add it

81/02/22 MLG
CANADIAN TITLE: Angelo Mosca WP Great Hossein
Masked Superstar WDQ Ray Stevens
Jimmy Snuka WP Mad Dog Vachon
Bob Duncum/Swede Hanson W Sweet Ebony Diamond/Dewey Robertson
Tony Parisi D Kurt Von Hess (subs for Jim Dillon)
Frankie Laine WP Ron Ritchie

81/02/23 Buffalo, NY
Masked Superstar/Paul Jones W Jimmy Snuka/Ray Stevens
Blackjack Mulligan W Bobby Duncum
Iron Sheik W Mad Dog Vachon
Sweet Ebony Diamond W Frankie Laine
Dewey Robertson W/DQ Swede Hansen
Tony Parisi W Ron Ritchie

81/02/24 Kitchener, ON TV Tapings
Iron Sheik/Bobby Duncum W Earl Pinnock/Ricky Johnson
Angelo Mosca W John Orlick
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W/DQ Iron Sheik/Bobby Duncum
Angelo Mosca W Chris Jones/Tim Gerrard in a handicap match
Swede Hanson W John Bonello
Frankie Laine D Ron Ritchie
Sweet Ebony Diamond/Tony Parisi W Kurt Von Hess/Brian Mackney
Swede Hanson W Ron Ritchie
Iron Sheik W Dewey Robertson
Angelo Mosca W Bobby Duncum

81/02/25 London, ON
Angelo Mosca W Hossein Arab
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W Bobby Duncum/Swede Hanson
Sweet Ebony Diamond W Kurt Von Hess
Frankie Laine WP Ron Ritchie
Tony Paris D Billy Red Lyons

81/02/26 - Kingston, ON
Angelo Mosca W Great Hossein
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W Bobby Duncum/Kurt Von Hess
Sweet Ebony Diamond W/COR Swede Hanson
Frankie Laine D Billy Red Lyons
Tony Parisi W Ron Ritchie

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Gene Kiniski at Make Believe Gardens: Repost

Another fine figure from our friend Barry Hatchet in our continuing look at the heels and heroes of Make Believe Gardens. Kiniski was an integral part of the wrestling scene here spanning some 4 decades from his debut in 1956 to his last appearance here in 1982.

He caused a lot of mayhem in and out of the ring for all of those years and he never met a mic he didn't like. One of the most important and notable of the many stars that spent a considerable time in our area. Thanks to Barry again, great job !

Other figures
Make Believe Gardens
More from Make Believe Gardens

Friday, August 3, 2018

Bob Backlund 1982: Classic Photo

Backlund has just fought a hard battle against his number one challenger Greg Valentine to retain his title and is soaking up the cheers on the ramp at MLG.

This picture would have been a real classic if not for the 'hand of doom' but at least it doesn't (completely) cover the WWF belt. Nowadays you could just snap a hundred in a row and you would have a few keepers in there. Back then film was expensive and processing was expensive. I learned how to develop my own photos around this time but that was expensive too! Anyhow out of a roll of 12 or 24 you had to pick your shots carefully and with all the chaos around the ramp and the lighting or lack of, it just was not easy to get that perfect photo if you weren't inside the railings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hutton wins NWA Title 1957: From The Scrapbook

Nov 14 1957 Dick Hutton beats Lou Thesz at MLG to take the NWA Title  in front of 10,000 fans. This was the 2nd of 4 NWA Title changes to take place in Toronto between 1949-1984. Hutton had been unbeatable in Toronto with his 1000$ challenge and would double it for this bout. If he lost he would give 1000$ to Thesz and 1000$ to charity. With NWA President Sam Muchnick in attendance Hutton beat Thesz after 35 minutes with an abdominal stretch to begin his reign as NWA champ.

Over the next year Hutton would defend the title at MLG 9 times including twice against former champ Thesz. After losing the title to Pat O'Connor in St Louis in early 1959 Hutton would remain here and continue his 1000$ challenge until he departed the area for good in Aug of that year.

Thanks to Roger Baker